April 09, 2009

World Health Day 2009 - Save lives; make hospitals safe in emergencies

World Health Day, celebrated each year on 7th April, is the anniversary of the foundation of World Health Organization (WHO). The day is a worldwide opportunity to focus on key public health issues that affect the international community and is usually marked by the launch of a long-term advocacy programme. This year focuses on the safety of health facilities and the readiness of health workers who treat those affected by emergencies.

Following an emergency or disaster, people rely on hospitals and health facilities to respond, swiftly and efficiently, as the lifeline for survival and the backbone of support. The tragedy is compounded when a hospital collapses or its functions disrupted. The theme of 2009 “Save lives; make hospitals safe in emergencies”
draws attention to the importance of investing in well-built health infrastructure that is able to withstand disaster and remain operational to help people in immediate need. This years World Health Day will be launched in Beijing as China recovers from a massive earthquake which last year killed more than 87,000 people and destroyed or damaged over 11,000 hospitals and clinics.

Natural calamities like cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis and famine, etc. and internal emergencies like wars, disease outbreaks, radiological incidents and chemical spills – are all rising. Though only 11% of the people exposed to natural hazards live in developing countries, they account for more than 53% of global deaths due to such cause suggesting that there is a great potential to reduce human death toll in these regions.

It is important to keep hospitals and health facilities safe, as they are more than just buildings. They save lives and protect health round-the-clock and safeguard social stability in times of crises. They are vital asset at the heart of a community, the place where often life starts and ends.

WHO is advocating a series of best practices that can be implemented, in any resource setting, to make hospitals safe during emergencies. Apart from safe siting and resilient construction, good planning and carrying out emergency exercises in advance can help maintain critical functions. Proven measures range from early warning systems to a simple hospital safety assessment, from protecting equipment and supplies to preparing staff to manage mass casualties and infection control measures.

Essentials for making health facilities safer
Develop and implement national policies and programmes to make health facilities safe in emergencies.
Select a safe site for the health facility.
Design and construct safe health facilities.
Assess the safety of existing health facilities.
Protect health workers, equipment, medicines and supplies.
Ensure that health facilities receive essential services.
Develop partnerships between health facilities and the community.
Develop an emergency risk management programme for individual health facilities.
Countries need to develop an emergency response plan for each health facility, test and update response plans with drills and exercises, train the health workers to respond to emergencies and evaluate and learn lessons from past emergencies and disasters.

As the Director General of WHO, Dr Margaret Chang says, "We must never forget: hospitals and health facilities represent a significant investment. Keeping them safe in emergencies protects that investment, while also protecting the health and safety of people."

Link: Original Article

No comments:



Related Posts with Thumbnails