Emergency and humanitarian action

Regional Meeting on Disaster Risk Management in the Health Sector

6-8 June, 2012, Bangkok, Thailand

In the context of high vulnerability of South-East Asia Region (SEAR) to natural disasters, including the increasing public health risks, a regional meeting was organized focusing on “Disaster Risk Management in the Health Sector” from 6-8, June 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting emphasized the importance of the health sector’s responsibilities towards vulnerable communities. The meeting was attended by officials from the concerned Ministries of Health and National Disaster Management Authorities from Member States, UN agencies, international organizations, NGOs, donor agencies and academic institutions.

As per disaster statistics, SEAR member countries accounted for around 46% of deaths due to disasters globally between 2001 and 2010. Droughts, floods, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, glacial lake outbursts and other natural hazards have become shared risks for all countries in the region. Complex and technological emergencies have also become common events for various reasons.

Emphasis has been given to the widely varying Disaster Risk Management Policies, missing processes and to programme delivery in some countries, as well as to the tremendous investment needed, particularly in the health sector. This regional meeting was a platform to discuss how this can be better integrated and effectively delivered to communities. The objective of the meeting was to develop a roadmap for better disaster-risk management in the health sector in line with regional and global initiatives.

An overall road map has therefore been set in place to give more cohesion to the various initiatives of member countries so that disaster risk management in the health sector can further improve for the people of South-East Asian countries - in a proactive stance to the newer risks and vulnerabilities it faces.

The meeting’s main conclusions were focused on an overall improvement of disaster risk management in the region. The main issues agreed upon include: strengthening regional cooperation through adequate information management and experience sharing, through proper research, documentation, case studies and data collection; greater attention to capacity building at the technical (with organized inter-sector trainings and updated curricula) and community levels, including community empowerment and resilience strengthening; step up efforts for safer health facilities and most importantly advocate for a systematic attention to post-disaster development as part of all health sector risk management.