2.3 Levels of protection

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Once risk has been assessed, and recognizing that it is impossible to reduce the level of risk to zero, a level of ‘acceptable risk’ must be defined—based on potential social and economic consequences of a disaster. For example, guidelines for planning, designing and protecting public works are established according to a definition of acceptable risk.

The health sector must also consider successive levels of protection.

Life protection is the minimum level of protection that every structure must comply with. It ensures that a building will not collapse and harm its occupants. Many hospitals in developing countries do not comply with this basic requirement. However, years ago this was also the case in developed countries. In the 1971 San Fernando, California earthquake, more than 90% of the deaths occurred in hospitals.

Investment protection involves safeguarding infrastructure and equipment. From a health point of view, protecting the investment means that repairs can be made more rapidly, leading to much faster rehabilitation. Post-disaster reconstruction can be a very long process.

Operational protection is meant to ensure that health facilities can function in the aftermath of a disaster. This is the optimal level of protection for the most essential hospitals.

Go to: Socioeconomic impact
of disasters on the health sector