Washington, DC, 14 April 2023 - The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to strengthen the resilience of hospitals to health emergencies and disasters, not only because they have been the backbone of the response, but also because they have simultaneously continued to provide care during all types of disasters, infectious disease outbreaks, social, financial and other crises. The pandemic also exposed gaps in emergency preparedness, and reinforced the importance of preparedness at all levels, from individual to community, organizational and systemic.
The growing need for Hospitals Resilient to health emergencies and disasters in the Region of the Americas is also based on scientific evidence that demonstrates the importance of being resilient, sustainable (SMART), inclusive, flexible and adaptable, and able to learn from experiences and recover in a timely and efficient manner.
The Americas region has the highest SARS-CoV-2 mortality rate (2406.20/1 million population) with 2,941,832 deaths from COVID-19. In addition, it is the second continent after Asia with the highest frequency of disasters globally, and 43% of hospitals (n=8329) in our region have a high level of exposure to natural hazards.
For this reason, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), through the Department of Health Emergencies, is moving forward with the Hospitals Resilient to Health Emergencies and Disasters initiative, together with its training program, to improve the preparedness, response and recovery capabilities of the health sector with a multi-hazard approach based on strategic risk assessment. PAHO/WHO supports Member States in strengthening hospital resilience in the Region, with the objective of saving lives, protecting investment and maintaining the continuity of health services.
Training in Guatemala
Training in Venezuela
Under the leadership of the Ministries of Health of Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and with the support of the WHO Collaborating Center for Resilient Health Services of Mexico's Social Security Institute (MEX-35), the first phase of the initiative is being implemented in 250 hospitals, addressing strategic risk assessment (STAR-H), structural and non-structural safety and management of health emergencies and disasters (ISH), and inclusion for people with disabilities (INGRID-H).
Training in Chile
A key strategy is the generation of local and regional capacities. So far, 41 facilitators and 203 professionals from 13 countries have been trained and have the competencies to implement the initiative in the region. In addition, PAHO cooperates on this and other issues with the WHO regional offices of EMRO and SEARO.
Participants in this phase of face-to-face training must first pass the virtual course "Evaluation of health facilities using the Hospital Safety Index", available on the PAHO/WHO Virtual Public Health Campus. To date, 9,562 participants from 28 countries in the Americas and 9 countries in other regions have been certified.
Training in Peru
The "Hospitals Resilient to Health Emergencies and Disasters" initiative promotes risk management in the health sector, directing actions towards reducing the risks identified in each locality and strengthening resilience, in order to reduce the risk of health emergencies and disasters, as well as the carbon footprint generated by health facilities. It also seeks to improve the inclusion of people with disabilities and other priority groups, and move towards universal health coverage and global health security. All of this is addressed with a renewed sense of urgency and in the context of sustainable development.
Training in Dominican Republic
Training in Colombia