Disaster Recovery Guidance Series: Health Sector Recovery

Manual and Guideline
Originally published
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About this Guidance Note

Disasters and emergencies often have disproportionate impacts on a country’s health system1 and the overall health of women, men, girls, and boys. Disasters can cripple health facilities (by destroying infrastructure or leaving a facility unable to function due to loss of critical components such as power and water), leading to their inability to provide lifesaving medical care. The interruptions of routine public health programs, such as vaccination campaigns, are common in the wake of a disaster, setting back gains to overall public health. Health workers are often unable to perform their duties because they have been personally affected or are unable to reach their workplace. Financial resources earmarked for health may be directed to other priorities.

Recognizing these realities as countries move to post-disaster recovery will help to maintain pre-disaster levels of health and may offer opportunities to introduce measures to improve the overall resilience of the health system.

This Guidance Note (the Note) for Post-Disaster Health Sector Recovery is intended to provide action-oriented guidance to local and central government health sector officials who face post-disaster challenges related to health sector recovery. It lays out the policy, planning, financial, and implementation decisions and activities that go into developing and putting into effect a Health Sector Recovery Plan.

Additionally, common pitfalls are outlined as well as ways to overcome them.

While recovery is not a linear process, the Note is structured around three phases:

  • Immediate, or initial recovery efforts as the sector transitions from response to recovery.

  • Short-term, or recovery planning and initial implementation.

  • Medium-term reconstruction efforts.

The three tables on the following pages summarize areas of work within each health sector recovery phase and presents key milestones, including where multilateral agencies and other support may assist recovery efforts.

The suggested milestones are aligned with three functions:

  • Lead—health officials have or take control to make things happen.

  • Support—health officials work with other recovery leaders to assist them in their recovery work.

  • Enable—health officials share resources and tools (for example, people, systems, platforms, data, and physical assets) that will help others to lead their components of recovery.

This Note is accompanied by an extensive Reading List that is available on the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery’s (GFDRR) Recovery Hub website, under the Health section ‘Knowledge Documents’ (reference to this list is made throughout this Note by *).2