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Hospital Safety
The 168 countries that adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action in 2005 recognized the importance of "making hospitals safe from disasters by ensuring that all new hospitals are built with a level of resilience that strengthens their capacity to remain functional in disaster situations and implement mitigation measures to reinforce existing health facilities, particularly those providing primary health care." Yet despite significant strides to recognize and correct the problem, in some parts of the world an alarming number of health facilities - from large complex hospitals in mega cities to small rural clinics that may be the only source of health care — are still built in highly disaster-prone areas. In other regions, emergencies and crises continue to leave health facilities unable to function, depriving communities of the care they need.

Hospitals such as public health laboratories, blood banks, rehabilitation facilities or pharmacies. They are the setting in which health workers work tirelessly to ensure the highest level of service. Their importance extends far beyond their role in saving lives and safeguarding public health in the aftermath of disasters. Health facilities have a symbolic social and political value and contribute to a community's sense of security and wellbeing. As such, they must be protected from the avoidable consequences of disasters, emergencies and other crises precisely the moment they are most needed.

The tragedies that struck the Asia and Pacific region underscore that urgent action must be taken to better protect hospitals from natural disasters. Large-scale human suffering is exacerbated when the very services that are most needed to save lives - hospitals, clinics and other health facilities - are counted among the casualties.

“Hospital Safety is a comprehensive hospital safety resource”.

The Hospitals safe from disasters theme was also used for the 2008-09 World Disaster Reduction campaign that culminates today. This two-year campaign has been a joint initiative of ISDR, WHO and the World Bank aimed at ensuring people’s access to functioning health facilities during and after natural hazards. The ISDR is using today's event to highlight the gains made during the campaign and the work that still needs to be done in making hospitals safer from disasters.

"Since the beginning of the campaign, much has been achieved to make hospitals safer but more investments are still needed to improve the functionality of hospital when disasters occur," says Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction. According to a recent WHO survey, only 50% of all country’s heath sectors have a budget allocation for risk reduction and emergency preparedness.

Hospitals and heath facilities are in the frontline when floods, hurricanes, cyclones, and earthquakes strike and many are adversely impacted because safety measures were not integrated in their design, construction and functionality. There are at least 90 000 hospitals and other health facilities in the world's 49 least-developed countries, many of which are vulnerable to disasters, including those related to the harmful effects of climate change.

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