[Dateline: Posted: Tuesday, 13 October 2009, Geneva/Bangkok/Nairobi | Author: UNISDR/UNIS Bangkok/iSeek]
The Day’s theme highlights the culmination of the 2008-2009 World Disaster Reduction Campaign with the same name and shows the efforts taking place worldwide to reduce risk, protect health facilities and save lives.
The Campaign is a two-year joint effort of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the World Health Organization (WHO), with support from the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, to raise awareness about why and how to re-double efforts to protect health facilities and ensure they can function during and in the aftermath of disasters.
In the recent natural hazards events in the Philippines, Vietnam and China, Samoa and Indonesia and West Africa, not only lives were lost, but many medical structures were damaged, preventing injured people from receiving emergency treatment and ongoing care when it was most needed.
Hospitals have a unique symbolic value as touchstones of public faith in government and society - and their safety is paramount.
On the occasion of the 2009 International Day for Disaster Reduction, the United Nations appeals to the global community to build new hospitals that will continue functioning when hazards happen.
This call takes up the recommendations on hospital safety of the Second Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, where governments agreed on the following targets: by 2011, national assessments of the safety of existing health facilities should be undertaken, and by 2015, concrete action plans for and hospitals will be developed and implemented in all disaster prone countries.
Many events will be organized all around the world, including London, United Kingdom; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Kathmandu, Nepal; Bangkok, Thailand; Maldives; Panama; Nairobi, Kenya; Welkom, Lejweleputswa District Municipality, Free State Province, South Africa; Cairo, Egypt.
The 20th anniversary commemoration in Bangkok of the International Day for Disaster Reduction will be observed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), featuring the announcement of three winners of a regional children’s drawing competition, with ceremonies to begin at 9:30 a.m. at the UN Conference Centre.
The regional drawing competition, which had the theme “Safe Hospitals – Hospitals in ASEAN Safe from Disasters,” saw the participation of children from around the Asia-Pacific region aged 8 to 12. They were invited to describe, through drawings and paintings, how secure hospitals could contribute to a safer and disaster-resilient ASEAN community.
The observance is scheduled to begin with messages from Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon, to be delivered on his behalf by Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer, ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior of Thailand.
The ceremony is also scheduled to include a briefing on national achievements in disaster reduction by three ASEAN countries, a talk to the children by UN and ASEAN representatives, and a panel discussion on “Safer Communities and Disaster Resilient Health facilities in the Asia Pacific region” by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, WHO and the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand.
A disaster scenario including a makeshift hospital with equipment and volunteers will be simulated, focusing on the preparedness of local hospitals. A display of information and material on hospital safety will also be shown.
UNISDR and WHO are also partnering with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Kenyan Ministry of State for Special Programmes, Kenya Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, Medics 24, Nairobi Hospital and others on this occasion.
In 1989, the General Assembly designated the second Wednesday of October as International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction. Since then the Day has been observed as a key activity for UNISDR to promote a global culture of natural disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.