5.1 Requirements for certifying a health facility as safe from disasters

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Protection of life

With minimum damage, a ‘safe’ facility withstands a very intense destructive event in the vicinity where it is located.

  • It meets seismic safety standards for the design of health facilities that include parameters governing strength and resistance, details about the facility’s individual elements, and its ability to meet demand.
  • Quality control is undertaken during construction.

Protecting investment

In the face of the destructive event, a safe facility performs in a way that ensures it can operate uninterrupted.

  • Basic services can be provided.
  • Equipment and supplies are protected.

Protecting function

 A safe facility maintains or improves its provision of services as a part of the health services network to which it belongs.

  • The network’s facility with the greatest response capacity, even if located in a high-risk area, should be secure.
  • Organization and planning for response have taken place.
  • Available resources include human resources, supplies, budget, etc.
  • Staff have been trained.

In the Americas, several initiatives have begun to approve and/or apply f minimum safety requirements for health facilities in the Caribbean, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Peru. However, analyzing and identifying parameters that can be applied overall to assess the relative safety of health facilities with respect to multi-hazard scenarios remains a pending task. The most appropriate strategy would be to develop, disseminate, and promote an international reference document that sets minimum safety standards under which new and existing health facilities are to be classified as ‘safe hospitals.’