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close this bookPrinciples of Disaster Mitigation in Health Facilities (PAHO-OPS, 2000, 127 p.)
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View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentPreface
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentExecutive Summary
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1 - Disaster and Hospitals
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 2 - Structural Vulnerability
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 3 - Nonstructural Vulnerability
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 4 - Administrative and Organizational Vulnerability
Open this folder and view contentsAnnex* - Methods for the Analysis of Structural Vulnerability
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This book presents key principles of disaster mitigation that can be of value to health facilities throughout the Americas. By compiling this information the Pan American Health Organization, the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) hopes to reach national and local authorities, hospital administrators, officials and staff, and other human resources connected in significant ways to health facilities. The book is aimed at health professionals, personnel responsible for health facility operations and maintenance, educators, architects and engineers, and members of the construction industry.

During its first meeting, held in July 1997, the PAHO/WHO International Hospital Mitigation Advisory Committee recommended that publications dealing with hospital mitigation have a multidisciplinary approach and include experiences and case studies from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Based on this recommendation, the PAHO Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Coordination Program decided to produce a new and extensively revised edition of Disaster Mitigation in Health Facilities, originally comprised of four volumes: General Issues, Administrative Issues, Architectural Issues, and Engineering Issues. As the titles imply, each volume examined a different facet of disaster mitigation in hospitals, and had a different target audience.

Since the Advisory Group recommended a multidisciplinary approach, the four volumes have been condensed into one. Some of the chapters and sections have been simplified and rewritten for a more general audience, and other graphical elements have been introduced to illustrate key concepts, particularly the factors that increase hospital vulnerability to natural disasters. Case studies from countries in the region describe the methodology employed in various mitigation projects and processes, as well as the results of such initiatives, showing that hospital mitigation is indeed practical and feasible.

One of the most relevant success stories in Latin America and the Caribbean has been the inclusion of disaster mitigation issues in the sectoral reforms underway in a majority of countries, thanks to awareness - raising efforts at the political level. Sectoral authorities can therefore proudly point to the positive results, in terms of cost effectiveness, of incorporating mitigation measures into any process aimed at upgrading health facilities, and health care in general.

This book examines the potential problems that can arise when disasters strike health facilities, and offers specific mitigation measures, emphasizing the key components that have to be in place for health establishments to continue providing vital services during and in the immediate aftermath of a major emergency.

Health facilities can be affected by natural phenomena such as earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and floods. They can also be damaged by anthropic (i.e., man-made) events such as fires, gas leaks or explosions. However, the emphasis here will be on seismic events, for two reasons. The first is that no other natural disaster affects health facilities as severely as earthquakes do. The second is that in reducing both the direct and indirect effects of seismic events, practically all other hazards are reduced.