During the implementation of the project Safe Hospitals and Urban Risk significant progress has been achieved related with the strengthening of the health sector in the region and improvements in the safety of health facilities. One of the biggest factors of success has been the multiplier effect through partnerships with Universities and national partners. Several universities in the region (the Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala and the Universidad Don Bosco in El Salvador, among others) use the resources recommended by PAHO/WHO to sensitize students about the need of building safer hospitals.
However, the great challenge of having safe health facilities in Central America (a region particularly vulnerable to disasters) is and will be a priority for PAHO/WHO. More than 67% of all 18,000 hospitals from Latin America and the Caribbean are located in high risk areas and many of them have remained out of operation after earthquakes, hurricanes and great magnitude floods.
In this respect, promote multi-sectoral work, which includes not only the health sector, and continue to promote the appropriation of the concept of Safe Hospitals by countries should be indispensable pillars of PAHO/WHO support.
The project Safe Hospitals and Urban Risk, based on the Safe Hospitals initiative, has been carried out in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and border areas between Panama and Costa Rica, following up a process that the countries prioritized and in which they work since 2008 with the support of the Department of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection of the European Commission (ECHO).
During the 15 month duration of this project, the Ministries of Health of the countries in close coordination with PAHO/WHO and other partners implemented several activities to promote emergency preparedness and actions to increase the safety of health facilities through the use of the Hospital Safety Index, among other tools.
Systematization and lessons learned
The aim of retrieving this information and systematize the experience is to organize the knowledge generated during the project and share it with all people, groups and public and private institutions that could be interested in the experience.
In order to increase the health sector resilience to respond to disasters the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) through the Area on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief launched the first of November 2010 the project Safe Hospitals and Urban Risk in Central America supported by ECHO.
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