Hospitals, infrastructure focus of World Health Day


In Pakistan's most-affected areas during the 2005 earthquake, 49 percent of health facilities were destroyed. A woman receives medical care outside a hospital in Muzaffarabad after the earthquake. (Photo: WHO/Christopher Black)

The World Health Organization has designated tomorrow (April 7) as World Health Day and this year the WHO is emphasizing the importance of “importance of investing in health infrastructure that can withstand hazards and serve people in immediate need.”

A 36-page brochure about World Health Day looks at how emergencies threaten hospitals and the delivery of care, especially what happens if the hospitals are destroyed or damaged – something that may be an issue in the wake of the earthquake in Italy.

Structural and infrastructural damage may be devastating exactly at the time when health facilities are most needed. Health workers have been killed in collapsing hospitals. The number of other deaths and injuries is compounded when a hospital is destroyed or can function only partially. Health facilities should be the focus for assistance when disaster strikes but, if they are damaged or put out of action, the sick and injured have nowhere to get help.

The WHO lays out things that governments, financial institutions and donors, universities, health institutions, international agencies, NGOs and the media can do to support better health care in emergencies.

More information, including videos and photos that can be used, are available from the WHO.

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