Make hospitals safe in emergencies- WHO
This year's World Health Day is observed under the slogan "Save lives. Make hospitals safe in emergencies". On this occasion WHO Director-General stressed that with our world of frequent extreme weather events and armed conflicts it is crucial to ensure that health facilities and hospitals are able to save lives in emergency situations. UN Secretary-General in his message urged the world community to protect public health by designing and building health care facilities that are safe from natural disasters.
The World Health Organization is recommending six core actions that governments, public health authorities and hospital managers can undertake to make their health facilities safe during emergencies. These include training health workers, designing and building safe hospitals, retrofitting existing health facilities to make them more resilient and ensuring staff and supplies are secure during natural disasters, conflicts, outbreaks and other emergencies.
To mark the celebration of World Health Day, WHO is focusing attention on the large numbers of lives that can be saved during earthquakes, floods , conflicts and other emergencies if hospitals are better designed and constructed and health staff well trained to respond.
“With our world threatened by the harmful effects of climate change, more frequent extreme weather events and armed conflicts, it is crucial that we all do more to ensure that health care is available at all times to our citizens, before, during, or after a disaster” said WHO Director - General Dr. Margaret Chan.
Too often, health facilities are the first casualties of emergencies. This means that health workers are killed and wounded, that services are not available to treat survivors and that large investments of valuable health funding in health facility construction and equipment are squandered.
Relatively inexpensive investments in infrastructure can save lives during disasters. Retrofitting non-structural elements in an otherwise structurally sound facility costs about 1% of the hospital's budget but will protect about 90% of its value.
Infectious disease outbreaks are another form of public health emergency that staff should be trained for. In areas affected by conflicts, hospitals and clinics should be allowed to function by all parties in line with international humanitarian law
WHO is urging all ministries of health to review the safety of existing health facilities and to ensure that any new facilities are built with safety in mind. Practical and effective low cost measures such as protecting equipment, developing emergency preparedness plans and training staff can help make health facilities safer, better prepared and more functional in emergencies
The six core actions that governments, public health authorities and others who operate hospitals and health care facilities can take are:
* Assess the security of your hospital
* Protect and train health workers for emergencies
* Plan for emergency response
* Design and build resilient hospitals
* Adopt national policies and programmes for safe hospitals
* Protect equipment, medicines and supplies.
Source: Compiled by Law Desk from different UN websites.