2.1.Damage and loss assessment

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Health authorities and the technical teams responsible for the rapid health response to a disaster will collect data the earliest data on health conditions in the disaster-affected area, which they will subsequently to those responsible for evaluating the overall impact of the disaster. It is important that they present a clear picture of damage and losses, since this information will form the basis for planning to address short-term needs for the functional rehabilitation of essential services.

The initial evaluation by the rapid response team will also serve as a baseline for a socioeconomic assessment of the disaster’s impact at a later date. It will also guide the preparation of plans for physical and functional recovery and to base cost estimates that will be incorporated into funding requests. Read more about the health sector post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA) here.

Generically speaking, the priority areas to assess are:

  • Effects of the disaster on public health.
  • Operating capacity of health facilities and networks in terms of physical infrastructure, equipment, and operation of vital services (water, electric power, communications).
  • Operation of essential health programs, in the areas of both medical care and prevention.
  • Needs for water and basic sanitation services, including hospital waste disposal.
  • Operating capacity in the form of sufficient human resources for health services.

Once the immediate response phase and the sector’s initial damage and needs assessment have been concluded, an assessment to determine the socioeconomic impact of the disaster on the health sector is advisable. An assessment of this type, based on the methodology developed by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), will determine the needs and priority areas for reconstruction as a function of the damages and losses in the sector. Consult the ECLAC Handbook for Estimating the Socio-economic (including health) and Environmental Effects of Disasters. Once this has been completed, proposals for rehabilitation and reconstruction projects can be developed.