Emergency and humanitarian action

Protecting Health Facilities from Disasters

Risk reduction is an integral part of emergency and disaster risk management. It covers both mitigation and prevention and in the health sector a focus on safer health facilities has been the priority of the EHA programme in line with the global campaigns of WHO, ISDR and the World Bank in 2009-2010.

The price we pay, in terms of loss to human lives, due to failure of health facilities to serve affected population during a disasters is too high in comparison to the cost of keeping them safe from disasters. Damage to health systems during a disaster is a human and health tragedy resulting in huge economic loss, distruption of development goals and damages social confidence. Making hospitals and health facilities safe from disasters is an economic requirement as weel as a social, moral and ethical necessity.

The Kathmandhu Declaration on Protecting Health Facilities from Disasters was signed by the Health Ministers of South-East Asia Region in September 2009 and has served as a high-level advocacy tool. SEARO member countries have also developped Benchmarks to assess safety of health facilities, improve existing facilities and ensure that new ones are built according to adequate standards. Moreover, the click-a-brick campaign, a regional web-based/social media effort is being carried out to spread the message to a wider public to spread awareness on safer health facilities.