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Disasters: Preparedness and Mitigation in the Americas, Issue No.117, April 2012

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Special Edition SAFE HOSPITALS
Will we meet the goal set for 2015 in the Plan of Action of the Americas?

Emergencies and disasters damage people, their property, and their environment in multiple ways. Whatever the impact, the priorities will be always to protect lives and the well-being of the affected communities and to reduce human suffering. The social, economic, and environmental cost of these events is enormous. Their impact can be felt for many years, particularly when health facilities stop functioning precisely when they are most needed.

The recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and Japan showed that the loss of critical health services such as emergency rooms, intensive care units, operating rooms, and diagnostics services, among others, had to be covered by nearby hospitals or by setting up field hospitals. Services provided by damaged health centers and health posts had to be reestablished making use of almost any available building or of tents.