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[Published: Tuesday April 07 2009]

Save lives and make hospitals safe in emergencies

Geneva/Beijing - The World Health Organization (WHO) is today celebrating World Health Day by focussing attention on the large numbers of lives that can be saved during earthquakes, floods , conflicts and other emergencies through the better design and construction of health facilities and preparing and training of health staff.

The WHO 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.

“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.

The six core actions that governments, public health authorities and others who operate hospitals and health care facilities can take are: To assess the safety of hospitals; to protect and train health workers for emergencies; to plan for emergency response, to design and build resilient hospitals; to adopt national policies and programmes for safe hospitals and to protect equipment, medicines and supplies.

The World Health Day is being launched in China this year, where an earthquake in May 2008 killed over 87,000 people and destroyed 11,027 health care facilities.

Relatively inexpensive investments in infrastructure can save lives during disasters, says the WHO. (ANA)

AB/ANA/ 7 April 2009 ---

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