Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hospitals as safe havens preventing social chaos in emergencies

Hospitals as safe havens should and must be politically neutral . They have the major function to contain the outbreaks of epidemics and communicable diseases as a result (inevitably so) of environmental catastrophes which engender great health threats . I can but say that Katrina was mishandled and the result was a great loss of public confidence right across the board with FEMA and public agencies . Do they have the technology on hand to analyze data to prevent such outbreaks. I believe there is an effort underway to refine and overhaul health systems technology which is more than overdue and the current administration, so I've read is at least planning in that direction. I read of the WHO and it is a noble "jab" at this problem of handling public emergencies.

Health facilities are safe havens for people during an emergency. Hospitals
and their staff must be regarded by all parties – particularly combatants during
conflicts – as neutral and must not be subjected to any form of violence. Sadly,
the provisions of international humanitarian law in this regard are often not
During emergencies, health facilities play a vital role. They:
provide emergency care to the injured (e.g. surgery and blood transfusions)
and to the critically ill – as in outbreaks of communicable disease;
and analyse data on illness and deaths in order to detect and prevent potential
communicable disease outbreaks;

deliver longer-term health care before and
after an emergency. People need long-term nursing and medical care, maternal and
child health services, rehabilitation of injuries, management of chronic
diseases, and psychosocial support long after the emergency is over;
immunization services to prevent outbreaks of communicable diseases such as
measles that lead to the needless deaths of more children; and
provide other
critical services – including laboratories, blood banks, ambulances,
rehabilitation facilities, aged care facilities, and pharmacies.

2. Protect investment
The most costly health facility is the one that
fails. Hospitals and health facilities are enormous investments for any country
and their destruction or damage imposes major economic burdens. In some
countries, up to 80% of the health budget is spent on hospitals and other health
facilities. Rebuilding a hospital that has been destroyed virtually doubles the
initial cost of the facility.

Hospitals are a haven for the public during conflicts and other emergencies
due to their neutrality, impartiality and ability to protect a community's
social and health capital.
Disasters are also politically important and
their handling affects public confidence. Perceived inadequacies in the
emergency response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, USA, in 2005 reduced
public confidence in government when the country witnessed 44 dead bodies being
recovered from a hospital that had been flooded, damaged and abandoned. At least
140 elderly patients of hospitals and nursing homes died in the wake of the

No comments:

Post a Comment