World Disaster Reduction Campaign 2008-2009

This is the homepage of the global campaign Hospitals Safe from Disasters: Reduce Risk, Protect Health Facilities, Save LivesFrom 2008-2009 the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat (UNISDR) and the World Health Organization (WHO), with support from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery of the World Bank, will partner with governments, international and regional organizations, non-governmental organisations and individuals worldwide, to raise awareness about why and how to redouble efforts to protect health facilities and ensure they can function during and in the aftermath of disasters.

Making the Case for Hospitals Safe from Disasters

The price we pay for the failure of hospitals or health facilities due to disasters is too high. In comparison, the cost of making hospitals safe from disasters is tiny.  Disaster damage to health systems is a human and health tragedy, results in huge economic losses, deals devastating blows to development goals, and shakes social confidence.  Making hospitals and health facilities safe from disasters is an economic requirement, and also a social, moral and ethical necessity.

10 basic facts to know about safe hospitals

Here are 10 basic facts to know about keeping hospitals and health facilities safe from disasters:

  1. Many factors put hospitals and health facilities at risk: buildings, patients, the health workforce, equipment, and basic lifelines and services.

  2. Components of a hospital or health facility are typically divided into two categories: Structural elements and non-structural elements.

  3. Functional collapse, not structural damage, is the usual reason for hospitals being put out of service during emergencies.

  4. Hospitals and health facilities can be built to different levels of protection: life safety, investment protection and operations protection.

  5. 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.

  6. Field hospitals are extremely expensive and not necessarily the best solution to compensate for the loss of a hospital or health facility.

  7. A check consultant is vital for ensuring the disaster safety of critical facilities such as hospitals.

  8. Building codes are of utmost importance.

  9. Creating safe hospitals is as much about having vision and commitment as it is about actual resources.

  10. The most costly hospital is the one that fails!

The Hospitals Safe from Disasters full information kit

Download the full information kit on the World Disaster Reduction Campaign: Hospitals safe from disasters:

ArabicChineseEnglishFrench | Russian | Spanish [ pdf 1.43Mb ]

Frequently Asked Questions about Safe Hospitals

These questions and answers were prepared by the Pan American Health Organization, regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization, in the context of disaster mitigation and risk reduction programs and activities in and on behalf of hospitals and health facilities in Latin America and the Caribbean.