In South America, Andean Institutions and Disaster Coordinators Adopt Disaster Strategy, Call for Safe Hospitals

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At the annual meeting of ministers of health of the Andean countries (Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela), delegates paid particular attention to disaster issues, approving the content of a health sector disaster preparedness and response strategic plan 2005-2010 and adopting the motto “safe hospitals in disaster situations” as an Andean risk reduction policy. They emphasized the importance of building new hospitals and health facilities with a level of protection that ensures their functionality in disaster situations and implementing the appropriate mitigation measures to reduce risk to existing facilities.

The Plan grew out of interagency work sessions (attended by representatives from the offices of external relations and disasters in the ministries of health; CAPRADE, the Andean Region Disaster Preparedness and Response Committee; the IFRC; the Convenio Hipólito Unánue and PAHO/WHO) which identified common needs, developed a strategic plan and mechanisms to achieve results.
At a subsequent meeting, CAPRADE adopted the health sector strategic plan as part of the Andean disaster reduction strategy. This will provide a framework in which countries can conduct joint exercises, support regional response teams for damage and needs assessment, epidemiological surveillance, and more; and strengthen disaster preparedness in the health sector.

Among the first steps countries will take to strengthen the health sector to respond to emergencies is to prepare or update their own health sector plans and promote health service networks under the concept of “safe hospitals.” The countries will also look at developing knowledge, research, and information management by promoting risk management training in educational institutions.
When the disaster coordinators from the ministries of health of South American countries met, they took forward these commitments, and presented an action plan for disaster preparedness and response that closely followed the strategic guidelines developed in both the Andean Region and those prepared by MERCOSUR. Among the priority actions for 2005 are: preparing an inventory of hospitals that have conducted vulnerability studies; conducting an internal assessment of the safety of their health facilities; stepping up training in the SUMA system and in health damage and needs assessment; greater advocacy for incorporating risk management in the curriculum of the region’s institutions of higher learning. Other issues considered a priority were mental health, prevention and protection against fires, chemical emergencies and disaster communications. For more information contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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