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PolyU and Sichuan U Jointly Set Up China's First Institute for Disaster Management and Reconstruction

(PRWEB) May 20, 2013

Jointly established by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and Sichuan University (Sichuan U), China's first Institute for Disaster Management and Reconstruction (IDMR) has recently been officially opened. Both institutions also held the Forum on "Post-Disaster Revival and International Disaster Reduction" to conclude lessons learnt from Wenchuan Post-Disaster Reconstruction and Lushan 4.20 Earthquake. Ms Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Director of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, was the Guest of Honour and a keynote speaker.

Professor Timothy W. Tong, PolyU President, Professor Roy Chung, Chairman of PolyU Court, and several members of PolyU Council formed a senior delegation to Sichuan and witnessed the opening of IDMR and the Forum. During their stay in Sichuan, Professor Tong and Professor Chung visited Yingxiu Primary School and learnt about the establishment of a social work station by PolyU expert in the school. Later on, Professor Chung and the Council members went further into the mountain area of Wenchuan and met with the minority residents of JinBo Village.

Currently PolyU is introducing some of its professional programmes across the border through IDMR to support the reconstruction and sustainable development of Sichuan. IDMR is comprised of the following departments: (1) Post-disaster Rehabilitation and Medical Treatment (subject areas: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthopedics, biomaterials and bio-engineering); (2) Disaster Nursing; (3) Disaster Social Work and Psychology (subject areas: post-disaster community reconstruction and mental rehabilitation); and (4) Environment Planning and Engineering (subject areas: shockproof structure, urban planning with disaster prevention).

Located in Jiang An Campus of Sichuan University, the premises of IDMR covers an area of 20,000 square metres. The Institute is home to six laboratories as well as one disaster database and resource centre --- all supported by a generous grant from The Hong Kong Jockey Club.

PolyU and Sichuan U have been collaborating in different aspects long before IDMR officially opened. Since 2011, IDMR enrolled a total of 23 PhD students through the Joint Doctoral programme. In 2013/14, PolyU and Sichuan U will jointly offer four taught postgraduate programmes approved by the Ministry of Education and leading to PolyU awards in the discipline of disaster nursing, prosthetics and orthotics, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

In addition, about 10,000 people were trained in areas of disaster nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthopedics, social work and psychology. The trainees included frontline healthcare professionals, rehabilitation professionals, social workers, high school teachers and non-government organization workers from Hong Kong and the mainland. The two universities also run life education programmes to enhance participants' resilience for disaster. Over the years, more than 3,000 teachers and students from universities, secondary schools and primary schools had joined such programmes.

Pursuant to Wenchuan earthquake, PolyU had also set up social work stations in Yingxiu Town, Hanwang Town, Xingnong Town and Qingping Village. These stations have served the disabled, teachers, parents and students as well as rural communities in post-quake Sichuan; providing comprehensive psychological support and integrated family services and also partly contributed to the rebuilding of district economy.

More recently, IDMR has played an important role in the Lushan 4.20 earthquake by setting up a task force and mobilizing professionals trained by PolyU and Sichuan U after Wenchuan earthquake, providing support for relief work in the areas of nursing, rehabilitation, social work and psychology.

Specially, Chengdu Second People's Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, which is set up under the guidance of Professor Cecilia Li of PolyU’s Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, had sent forth a team to Ya’an under the leadership of the head of the Hospital on 21 April. In early May, Professor Li made a trip to Sichuan to visit some amputated earthquake victims and provided further intensive training on rehabilitation for frontline medical and nursing practitioners.

Besides, Professor Samantha Pan of PolyU's School of Nursing and her team have compiled the e-learning course materials on "Post-disaster Trauma Nursing Training" developed by the School to IDMR. The course is written in Simplified Chinese with nine modules, covering the management of post-disaster mental health problems, post-disaster infection control, prevention of post-operative complications, rehabilitation nursing after amputation, spinal injury and its management, fracture management and wound management. The School also provided the "Earthquake Survival Manual" to IDMR for public reference.

Dr Timothy Sim, associate professor of PolyU's Department of Applied Social Sciences, also managed to obtain first-hand information on Lushan earthquake from his counterpart at Sichuan Agricultural University in Ya'an; and thereby assessed the need of victims. IDMR has brought in information and experiences of different countries through Dr Sim's partnership with the international organization "Earthquake without Frontiers".

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