World Health Day 2009 : Save lives. Make hospitals safe in
World Health Day 2009 focuses on the safety of health facilities and the
readiness of health workers who treat those affected by emergencies. Health
centres and staff are critical life-lines for vulnerable people in disasters -
treating injuries, preventing illnesses and caring for people's health
Hospitals are cornerstones for primary health care in communities
– meeting everyday needs, such as safe childbirth services, immunizations and
chronic disease care that must continue in emergencies. Often, already fragile
health systems are unable to keep functioning through a disaster, with immediate
and future public health consequences.
More than 11 000 medical institutions were damaged in China's Wenchuan
earthquake in May 2008, forcing tens of thousands of people to seek treatment
Current conflicts in Ethiopia and Gaza are interrupting primary
health services, such as immunizations.
The Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004
damaged 61% of health facilities in Indonesia's Aceh province, and killed nearly
a third of the area's midwives, a major loss for women's health.
World Health Day is one of WHO's most visible opportunities to raise
awareness of global health priorities. This year, WHO and international partners
have chosen to underscore the importance of investing in health infrastructure
that can withstand hazards and serve people in immediate need. They also urge
health facilities to implement systems to respond to internal emergencies, such
as fires, and ensure the continuity of care.
WHO 10 basic facts to know about safe
Here are 10 basic facts to know about keeping hospitals
and health facilities safe from disasters:
- Many factors put hospitals
and health facilities at risk: buildings, patients, the health workforce,
equipment, and basic lifelines and services.
- Components of a hospital or
health facility are typically divided into two categories: Structural elements
and non-structural elements.
- Functional collapse, not structural damage,
is the usual reason for hospitals being put out of service during
- Hospitals and health facilities can be built to different
levels of protection: life safety, investment protection and operations
- Making new hospitals and health facilities safe from
disasters is not costly. It has been estimated that the incorporation of
mitigation measures into the design and construction of a new hospital will
account for less than 4% of the total initial investment.
hospitals are extremely expensive and not necessarily the best solution to
compensate for the loss of a hospital or health facility.
- A check
consultant is vital for ensuring the disaster safety of critical facilities such
- Building codes are of utmost importance.
safe hospitals is as much about having vision and commitment as it is about
- The most costly hospital is the one that