4.2 Financing mitigation in health

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financiamiento de mitigacion

In most countries in the Americas, risk reduction activities are funded by the regular budgets of the various governmental agencies involved, which, although they may not have specific budget categories for risk reduction, do have lines from which they can finance these activities. In the health sector, for example, there are funds for infrastructure and maintenance, as well as income that some establishments generate for themselves and that can be invested to protect health services. Unlike disaster response funds, these development funds can be used to improve the safety of facilities that have not yet been damaged.

Since disaster risk reduction is a fundamental task that is incumbent on countries, authorities are encouraged to create risk reduction funds by explicitly allocating a percentage of the budgets of the different entities—both sectoral and territorial—to risk management. An example is Mexico's Fund for the Prevention of Natural Disasters (FOPREDEN) (document available only in Spanish), which has resources for risk reduction.

Some international organizations are actively promoting and funding strategies to protect health services from disasters.

  • The Pan American Health Organization works with the countries of the Americas not only to raise awareness of the need to invest in protection, maintenance, and strengthening of existing health facilities, but also to stress the obligation of designing and building new facilities according to safety criteria that have been defined with disasters in mind. The Organization also works to strengthen the political will of health authorities in Member States.
  • The DIPECHO Action Plans of the European Union’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid funds projects for disaster preparedness and reduction in communities. The projects include activities to ensure that health services will be functioning in a disaster.
  • ECLAC plays an important role in this field, in particular because of its experience in economic impact of disaster impacts, and because it advocates for the inclusion of mitigation in rehabilitation and reconstruction projects carried out immediately following a disaster.
  • The relevant international funding agencies include:
    • The World Bank, which is one of the oldest providers of financial aid for reconstruction following disasters. It has many publications on risk reduction at the world level; 
    • The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which gives priority to measures designed to reduce vulnerability, and provides financing to the countries of the Region for disaster prevention and mitigation, and to help them increase their ability to manage risk;
    • The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), which, under the Puebla-Panama Plan, requires that risk management be a part of all the projects that it funds;
    • The Andean Development Corporation (ADC); and
    • The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), which is increasingly stressing prevention and mitigation in its funding of projects.

It should be noted that a government can go to the banking market and seek funds for mitigation measures, but since the country must repay the debt, this is ultimately another form of public funding.

Finally, regardless of the source of funding, it is important to draw on existing experience and technical information to make every investment in health an opportunity to incorporate disaster prevention in projects. See the report from the U.S. Congressional Budget Office on the potential cost savings from the pre-disaster mitigation programs, which may yield lessons for the health sector.

Go to: Hospitals safe from disasters