Disasters often present severe health consequences for the inhabitants of a community and provide a unique situation for public health actions.

This chapter provides an overview of issues related to disaster and humanitarian crisis in developing countries from a public health perspective. As the study of disaster and humanitarian crisis is multidisciplinary, the chapter starts by describing and defi ning public health terminologies that are relevant to the study of disasters. The chapter then focuses on delineating the direct and indirect public health impacts of some common natural disasters, the principles of public health need assessments, the fundamentals of disaster health and medical responses and the concept of a fi ve-stage disaster cycle to facilitate disaster health risk analysis and planning. Two case studies are also discussed to describe the impact and illustrate why low-income countries are particularly vulnerable to disasters.