Massive health disasters are increasingly common. As climate change accelerates, so too will the rate at which people die or are injured because of climate-related natural disasters. In 2020, natural disasters claimed more than 8,000 lives worldwide. Infections and contagious diseases, food and waterborne illnesses, global pandemics, and even the flu can trigger widespread public health catastrophes.
In addition, illnesses are increasingly intersecting with natural disasters to produce serious emergencies. Natural disasters displace people, cause crowded conditions, and increase the risk of poor sanitation, allowing disease to more rapidly spread. Public health nurses play a critical role in educating the public and providing support to those recovering from various disaster scenarios.