World Health Day
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a safe hospital?
A safe hospital is an establishment whose services remain accessible and functional, at maximum capacity, and within the same infrastructure immediately following a disaster. The term 'safe hospital' encompasses all health facilities, regardless of their level of complexity. A hospital is 'safe' when it enjoys the highest level of protection possible, when access routes to the health facility are open and critical lifelines continue to supply the health facility, guaranteeing continuity of operations and the ability to absorb the additional demand for medical care.
How can we reduce the vulnerability of health facilities?
The vulnerability of a health facility and the health services network in general can be reduced by carrying out a functional diagnosis; identifying priority components; including aspects of vulnerability and risk reduction in national processes of accreditation, certification and licensing of health facilities; and building capacity in the health workforce to improve the hospital's response to disasters.
What strategies can be used to carry out a 'safe hospitals' program?
- Lobby with decision makers to create a 'safe hospitals' program in ministries of health, other national ministries and in subregional organizations (SICA, the Central America Integration System; CAN, the Andean Community; and CARICOM, the Caribbean Community).
- Identify other actors involved in safeguarding health facilities from disasters (water, energy, finance, planning, emergency response committees, etc.) and involve them in technical and outreach activities.
- Develop scientific and academic programs and activities around the topic of safe hospitals in universities, research centers, and professional associations involved in construction and operation of hospitals.
- Incorporate criteria for the protection of health facilities into investment projects for new health facilities; make reference to these criteria in the solicitation of bids for design, construction and operation of health facilities.
- Establish independent mechanisms for supervision of projects, involving skilled professionals to work in close coordination with the project execution team.
- Make broad use of existing technical expertise at national and regional levels in safe hospitals, including WHO Collaborating Centers and the Disaster Mitigation Advisory Group (DiMAG).
What is the value added of promoting a 'safe hospitals' program?
- Opportunity to define criteria, goals, and indicators;
- Identifying 'model' hospitals provides an incentive to further develop the program; and
- Experience and lessons learned can be added to a knowledge base and shared at regional and global levels.
What kind of follow up is needed?
- Once the criteria, goals, and indicators are defined, 'safe' hospitals can serve as a national model.
- The designation of 'model' safe hospitals will provide an incentive to establish a safe hospitals program and to achieve this sustainable goal.