PAHO/WHO’s commitment to Safe Hospitals emphasizes the importance of: a) building new hospitals with a level of protection so they remain functional in disaster situations; and b) applying appropriate mitigation measures to reduce risk to existing facilities.

In keeping with this commitment, PAHO/WHO and regional health and structural engineering experts are working on an easy-to-use computer model to measure and rank a health facility’s level of safety in the context of its geographical location and exposure to natural disasters (risk and vulnerability). As not all hospitals face the same risks, nor are they built using the same methods, the model incorporates a wide range of elements that gauge safety. The level of safety relates to three major areas: structural, non-structural and functional. One critical aspect of this model is that it gives different weight to different factors, thus permitting a more realistic appraisal of the hospital’s level of safety. The program automates and standardizes the assessment and evaluation phase, reducing bias and lessening the chance of mathematical error. It is being developed in Spanish and English and will be field tested in Cuba, Mexico, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.