Photos by Carlos Gaggero, PAHO, WHO and Lissette Chavarria
Mr. Ban Ki-Moon

Ban Ki-Moon
The Secretary-General of United Nations
Message on the International Day for Disaster Reduction
8 October 2008

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The observance of the International Day for Disaster Reduction for 2008 takes place in a year that has seen more than its fair share of natural calamities, and falls on the third anniversary of the earthquake in South Asia.  With the casualties of that disaster and of this year’s Wenchuan Earthquake and Cyclone Nargis still fresh in our minds, it is all the more appropriate to recall the lessons we have learned.

Nearly four years ago, Governments adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action, which aims to reduce our collective vulnerability to natural hazards.  But we must do more to turn commitments on paper into deeds that can keep the next major disaster from taking so many lives and destroying so many livelihoods.  Now more than ever, when we are trying to accelerate national and international efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, disaster risk reduction needs to be acknowledged and incorporated as a key plank of that work.  The threats posed by climate change – including increasing droughts, floods and storms – increases the urgency further still, particularly in the world’s poorest, most vulnerable communities.

The World Disaster Reduction Campaign for 2008-2009 focuses on making “Hospitals Safe from Disasters”.  When health facilities are damaged, so, too, is our ability to improve maternal and child health and to provide other essential health services. But in resilient communities, health systems are better able to withstand natural hazards.  We need to mobilize society at every level to reduce risk and protect health facilities so that they can save lives.

I urge all partners – Governments, civil society, international financial institutions and the private sector -- to step up implementation of the Hyogo Framework.  Disaster risk reduction is everybody’s business.  Only by investing in tangible risk reduction measures can we reduce vulnerability and protect development.  On this International Day, let us renew our dedication to this vital task.

Sálvano Briceño
Sálvano Briceño
Director, UNISDR
From a human perspective, all disasters are a health issue, and damage to health systems affects nations as a whole and every part of society. A disaster-safe hospital is part of a disaster-safe community. Everyone needs to be aware of the crucial role health facilities and health systems play and must be committed to their safety. more

UN rings the alarm on health cost of disasters
UNISDR Press release
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Hospitals safe from disaster
International Day flyer
English - French
Call for good practices
Sasakawa Award 2009
Major events worldwide

For more information
please contact

Tze Ming Mok


Hospitals safe from disaster
World Disaster Reduction Campaign 2008-2009

The difference in cost between building a safe and an unsafe hospital can be negligible – on average 4% of the cost of the facility. But that tiny investment can mean the difference between life and death, or between a chronically unhealthy community and one that develops sustainably. During disasters, those who are injured need urgent medical attention. Those who have escaped injury still require medical services in the long term, but after a disaster public health is often forgotten. When health services and hospitals fail due to disaster, people die and suffer needlessly both during the disaster and long afterwards.

The Campaign’s objectives are to effect change that helps to:

  1. Protect the lives of patients and health workers by ensuring the structural resilience of health facilities;
  2. Make sure health facilities and health services are able to function in the aftermath of emergencies and disasters - when they are most needed; and
  3. Improve the risk reduction capacity of health workers and institutions, including emergency management.


Regional centres worldwide launched the World Disaster Reduction Campaign this year, starting with a high level roundtable with governments, international agencies and health experts in Davos, Switzerland. Read more about the regional launches at

Information Kit
For more information 

Call for good practices in making Hospitals Safe from Disasters

  • What is being done to make hospitals, health facilities and systems, and health workers safe from disasters?

  • Does your organization have a project or initiative that should be showcased as a good practice example for others?

UNISDR Secretariat and WHO are collecting good practices on making hospitals safe from disasters, including initiatives on: structural and non-structural safety, keeping hospitals working through disasters, and hospital and staff preparedness.

Good practices will be selected from submissions for a publication to be launched on International Day for Disaster Reduction 2009. Deadline for submissions is 30 May 2009.

To submit full details of your good practice, please download the template here.

Safehospitals web

An information and resource hub for the World Disaster Reduction Campaign 2008-2009: Hospitals Safe from Disasters, that will serve as an ongoing resource beyond the end of the campaign.

Visit the website regularly for more on the development (including regional versions) of the Hospital Safety Index - a tool that provides an initial snapshot of a health facility’s safety level, key events like next year’s World Health Day which will complement the Hospitals Safe from Disaster campaign, global resources for health practitioners and managers of health facilities, news about the campaign, multimedia resources such as DVDs and video clips, and media resources.

 Major events Worldwide
 on International Day for Disaster Reduction 2008

New York, USA
The global event will be a high level panel in New York featuring representatives of countries that have suffered major disasters, including China, and that have since focused closely on protecting critical infrastructure such as health facilities and schools. The event will also announce the launch of as the global website of the Hospitals Safe from Disaster campaign.
Focal point: Tze Ming Mok, UNISDR Secretariat, Geneva -

bullet Bangkok, Thailand
UNISDR with the ASEAN Secretariat will hold an Award Ceremony for a regional drawing competition called Safer Community - Hospital, School and House of My Dream, and organize a roundtable discussion on the issue.
Focal point: Christel Rose, UNISDR Secretariat, Asia and the Pacific -
bullet Cairo, Egypt
UNISDR and partners will hold an event in Cairo involving a broad spectrum of stakeholders, from academic institutions and hospital directors, to civil society organizations. UNISDR and WHO will also launch the Campaign’s regional framework, a regional version of the Hospital Safety Index and a PSA.
Focal point: Tine Ramstad, UNISDR Secretariat West Asia North Africa -
bullet Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Coordinating with UN Country Teams, UNISDR West Asia North Africa will plant trees and encourage tree planting by other UN Country Teams across the region to fight desertification, drought and climate change.
Focal point: Goulsara Pulatova, UNISDR Secretariat West Asia North Africa Sub-regional Office -

bullet Islamabad, Pakistan
To mark the International Day for Disaster Reduction, Pakistan will hold its National Conference on Disaster Management and a two-day expo on disaster risk reduction, organized by the National Disaster Management Authority with the support of the South Asian Resources Centre.
Focal point: Abdul Karim Nayani, UNISDR Secretariat Special Representative -
bullet Mpumalanga and West Cape, South Africa
The Government of South Africa will hold celebrations culminating on 16 October in Mpumalanga with a street parade and drama competitions. The Disaster Management Institute of Southern Africa is holding a major conference near Cape Town on 8-9 October.
Focal point: Martin Owor, UNISDR Secretariat Special Representative -
bullet Panama City, Panama and Washington D.C, USA
UNISDR and the Pan American Health Organization will be launching a photography contest on safe hospitals, and planning outreach activities with regional hospitals and health facilities to commemorate the day.
Focal point: Margarita Villalobos, UNISDR Secretariat for the Americas -

Tehran, Iran
The 3rd Economic Cooperation Organization Conference on Disaster Risk Management will be held 7-8 October, supported by UNISDR Secretariat. There will also be a knowledge fair and media training.
Focal point: Seyed Mohammad Sadatinejad, UNISDR Secretariat Special Representative -