WHO pledges support for drive for safer schools and hospitals

News release

MANILA, 8 April 2010 -- The World Health Organization is pledging its support to a new global campaign, launched in Manila today, to make hospitals and schools safe from disasters.

The One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Campaign has been established by United Nations agencies to protect health and educational facilities from emergencies and the millions of people who rely on them for healthcare and learning.

"This campaign is unique because it offers people from all walks of life the opportunity to protect their hospitals and schools, and in turn save lives," says Dr Eric Laroche, Assistant Director-General for WHO's Health Action in Crises Cluster. "Members of the public, governments, health workers and hospital staff can all find a way to actively support this initiative to make one million hospitals and schools safe from disasters."

People can make pledges under three types of categories:

· Volunteering to raise awareness about safe schools and hospitals.

· Leading or supporting safety and disaster preparedness activities.

· Donating time and/or resources to make hospitals and schools safer by buying safety equipment, maintaining surroundings and repairing facilities.

The campaign was launched during today's opening of the ASEAN Forum on Safe Hospitals at the Manila Hotel, which was attended by governments throughout the South-East Asian region, United Nations agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

By pledging it support to the campaign, WHO will continue its extensive work in advocating and supporting action (with governments, donors, health professionals, etc.) for the structural and functional safety and preparedness of health facilities to ensure they can continue treating people who need assistance following emergencies.

The new schools and hospitals campaign is part of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction's 2010-2011 World Disaster Reduction Campaign, which is titled Building resilient cities, addressing urban risk.

Yesterday, WHO also marked its annual World Health Day event with the launch of its "1000 cities - 1000 lives" campaign, which highlights the impact of urban living on human health and encourages efforts to make cities healthier places for people to live. A key focus of the World Health Day campaign is to make urban areas resilient to emergencies and disasters.

And the 2009 World Health Day campaign was titled "Save lives. Make hospitals safe from emergencies," and focussed attention on the need to make all health facilities able to withstand natural hazards, conflicts and other emergencies and function in their wake.

For more information, please contact: Dr Arturo Pesigan, WHO Technical Officer, at Tel: 528 9810;
Mob: 0918 9178 053; E-mail: pesigana@wpro.who.int