The tornadoes that have devastated the cities of Joplin (Missouri State) and Minneapolis (Minnesota State) in the U.S. have left dozens of dead people and widespread damages in the infrastructure and services of the area. The main hospital in the city of Joplin had been evacuated after suffering the direct hit from the storm and being severely damaged. The emergency unit, set up to provide care for the wounded, has been moved after several fires were declared in the building.
It is necessary to stress the importance of hospitals and health facilities safe from disasters. PAHO/WHO continues to implement measures to improve safety in the health facilities in the region and to strengthen their capacity to respond to emergencies. It is important to establish alliances within the network of stakeholders from different sectors, both within and outside the health sector.
In the past 10 years progress has been made to ensure that hospitals do not collapse and continue running when a disaster strikes. It is necessary to continue moving in this direction and developing programs to keep hospitals and health centers operating when they are most needed.