The region has been urged on World Health Day 2009, to commit to the creation of a national safe hospital programme.

Family and Community Health Advisor of the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), Dr. Betzabe Butron, made this call today while speaking on the theme “Save Lives. Make Hospitals Safe in Emergencies”, at the 4th Annual Health Fair of the Lions and Leo Clubs of Barbados, at Heroes’ Square.

Dr. Butron said: “On this World Health Day we are calling on decision makers from every country of our region to commit to the creation of a national safe hospital programme and to mobilise the broadest possible support to making hospitals and health facilities safe from disasters.”

And, she noted that PAHO stood ready to work with Ministers of Health and other institutions in order to make safe health facilities a reality “for every country in the Caribbean, and for every person in our community”.   

Dr. Butron made the point that a safe hospital was one whose structure remained intact during and after a disaster, where health workers were trained to respond in an emergency and whose contingency plans enabled it to keep functioning, even after a disaster.

She explained: “Making hospitals safe is not just the responsibility of health officials and engineers. It requires the involvement of many disciplines and the dedication of individuals and institutions at all levels – including governmental and non-governmental organisations, universities, [the] private sector and the public in general. We all have a role in making hospitals safe.”

According to the PAHO representative, experience also demonstrated the tremendous pay-off, at the political level, when hospitals remained standing and functioning as beacons of security and solidity, in the midst of disaster and despair.

“We must never forget hospitals and health facilities represent a significant investment. Keeping them safe in [an] emergency protects that investment, while also protecting the health and safety of people – our foremost concerns,” she added.

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