The global event of the 2009 International Day for Disaster Reduction was staged at the Royal Marsden Hospital, which had been severely damaged in a fire in early 2008. The meeting gathered more than 120 participants from all stakeholder groups and was hosted by the UK Health Protection Agency in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).
The event saw the launch of a key initiative, the Thematic Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction for Health. WHO and UNISDR on behalf of the ISDR system, expressed the joint commitment to work together with many local, national and international partners to implement actions which will reduce deaths, injuries and illness from emergencies, disasters and other crises and improve the health and well-being of millions of people at risk through enhanced risk reduction, emergency preparedness, response and recovery.
Moreover, the London Five Hospitals Fire Report was launched by the UK’s National Health Service. Between January 2008 and February 2009, London witnessed a series of fires that severely damaged five of its major hospitals. The Report reviewed the five fires and their management and identified the lessons learnt.
Moderated by the editor in chief of the British Medical Journal Fiona Godlee, the event included keynote speeches from eleven influential figures involved in international and national efforts in relation to hospital safety. International statements and activities were presented by UNISDR and WHO, an academic perspective was provided by the World Association for Disaster & Emergency Medicine (WADEM). The Directorate-General for Health and Consumers and WHO’s European Office offered insight into efforts at the European level. National experiences, activities and successes were brought to the audience by UK’s Department of Health, the Health Protection Agency and National Health Service and the Royal Marsden Hospital as well as the Disaster Medicine Centre of Moldova.
In the final discussion, the importance of leadership and sustainability in making hospitals safe from disaster was stressed. The speakers emphasized the need of an increased knowledge transfer and exchange as well as for more usage of modern communication formats to achieve these goals. And above all, they called for all hospitals to withstand the impacts of natural hazards.