2.2. Organization

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2 2 organizacion-engOnce disaster risk reduction is formally included in the national health sector plan, a system must be set up to establish clear links between the functions, roles, and responsibilities of all health sector institutions and levels, including each division and department in the ministry of health.

This structure of relationships should group roles and responsibilities to determine the organizational model that would work best to meet and fulfill these challenges, both within the ministry and in coordination with other institutions in and beyond the sector.

To clarify the organization and functions of the system, it would be helpful to develop an organizational chart with all relevant organizations and the minimal technical competencies required of the individuals assuming the various responsibilities.

The organizational design for the management of risks, emergencies, and disasters may vary from country to country, according to their political and administrative organization, but leadership, technical assistance, and coordination and execution must be taken into account across the board. An entity must be created with full-time staff and its own budget (the budget will depend on the size of the country and magnitude of the hazards, vulnerabilities, and risks that the health sector faces). This entity, which can be at the level of an agency or unit, will have permanent responsibility for functions designed to ensure that the health sector can perform its designated emergency and disaster functions, including:

  • Preparing operational plans and programs
  • Strengthening technical programs in health
  • Supporting the development of sub-national technical units (regional and local)
  • Organizing and managing an emergency operations center and a situation room
  • Logistics
  • Organizing communications and computer networks
  • Establishing coordination mechanisms with the sector’s institutions and operational programs
  • Establishing coordination mechanisms with the technical units and technical programs of cooperation agencies outside the health sector
  • Organizing, equipping, and training response teams
  • Developing training programs for health workers
  • Disseminating technical and scientific material
  • Ensuring that mechanisms for early warning of health risks are in place
  • Strengthening public information and communication mechanisms
  • Maintaining up-to-date databases

Click on the following links to see a sample of organizational charts of the ministry of health disaster programs of several Latin American countries, including that Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru. As you can see, each country has a different structure.