Afghanistan launches new drive to prepare health sector for response to crises
3 August 2010 ¦ Kabul, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan has launched a new drive to better prepare its health sector, and the broader community, to cope with and respond to the impacts of conflict, hazardous natural events and other potential humanitarian crises.
Supported by the World Health Organization, the country's Ministry of Public Health has decided on a range of actions aimed at strengthening the health sector capacity to reduce the loss of life and suffering associated with recurrent crises that affect Afghan communities.
In a larger effort to make the health sector self-reliant, a landmark workshop held in Kabul on 10-11 July agreed on a roadmap outlining critical steps needed in the areas of risk reduction and emergency preparedness, including:
- Institutionalizing disaster preparedness and response into the health sector
- Improving the health risk management capacities of the Ministry of Public Health at all levels;
- Improving links between all components of the government's national disaster management system along with key partners in the international community;
- Conducting an in-depth risk assessment for all-hazards;
- Developing a national health emergency preparedness and response plan;
- Capacity building program, including helping communities reduce risk and prepare the public for emergencies.
The Ministry of Public Health and WHO have decided not to delay action until disaster strikes but to prepare Afghanistan's health system and communities now so they can be resilient to all hazards affecting the country," says Mr Peter Graaff, WHO Representative to Afghanistan. "It is too late to reflect on what should have been done after a crisis has occurred. It is now time to reduce the risk of illness and death, disruption of the health and other essential services and to prepare communities and the health system to respond to emergencies rapidly and effectively."
The Kabul workshop was attended by UN agencies, nongovernmental organizations and government agencies from the health and non-health sectors, including the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority.
The workshop helped analyse hazards and vulnerabilities and looked closely at the current gaps in capacity and resources to deal with emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction.
Afghanistan is among many developing countries where there is a growing awareness that reducing risk and preparing to respond to emergencies are both critical and timely undertakings. Countries and communities are the first responders to crises, and they, in turn, need the resources to respond immediately to risks in their communities.
To deliver emergency health care to Afghans, the WHO-led Health Cluster network of UN and civil society organizations and government partners has requested approximately US$6 million in the mid-year review of the Afghanistan Humanitarian Action Plan for 2010. The funding would assist projects planned to meet a range of humanitarian health needs in Afghanistan.
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