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Will Health Services function when most needed?

Disasters caused by natural hazards have devastating effects on people, families, and communities. Socioeconomic consequences can be life shattering. These disasters call for an immediate response from the health sector that is the most critical pillar of humanitarian action. Ministries of Health and Governments face intense scrutiny from national and international actors on their performance in such events and face mounting expectations for quick, decisive and appropriate action.

63rd World Health Assembly

In the first few months of 2010, major earthquakes in Haiti, China and Chile have caused a massive number of deaths and injuries, widespread disruption of health services and damage to health facilities—both structural and functional.

During this Side Event, Ministers of Health will share country experiences in dealing with the health impact of recent earthquakes. Participants will also share knowledge of how communities, countries and the international community can improve health outcomes and protect health services in disasters by improving the safety of health facilities through risk reduction and strengthening of health systems. Take-away messages from this session include:

  • Hospitals must remain operational after a disaster. Improving the safety of health facilities not only will save lives and lead to a quicker recovery of society in general, but will also have positive repercussions on daily operations.
  • Countries must know how and to what degree hazards affect health, health facilities and health systems and what can be done at local, national, regional and global levels to address health emergency risks.
  • The international community and national governments should join efforts to address the structural and
    functional factors that make health facilities safer, so as to reduce vulnerability.

The UN has intensified efforts through the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters. World Health Day 2009 focused on making hospitals safer and better prepared to deal with emergencies and disasters.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 November 2010 15:46

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