Humanitarian Health Action

Health at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

8-13 May 2011 Geneva Switzerland

The Global Platform for Disaster Reduction was established in 2007 as a biennial forum for information exchange, discussion of latest development and knowledge and partnership building across sectors, with the goal to improve implementation of disaster risk reduction through better communication and coordination among stakeholders. The Global Platform is managed by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. It is the world’s foremost gathering of stakeholders committed to reducing disaster risk and building the resilience of communities and nations.

More than 2600 delegates and health sector representatives participated in the third session of the Global Platform, held in Geneva on 9–13 May in conjunction with the World Reconstruction Conference focusing on disaster recovery and reconstruction.

The critical issue of people’s health was given greater attention in the Global Platform due to a combination of factors, including a larger number of health delegates from many different countries and more presentations from the health sector than in previous sessions. More than 60 people from health and other sectors gathered to share information on their projects and discussed a global plan of action to enhance multisectoral collaboration on disaster risk reduction for health in two meetings of the health thematic platform.

A Joint Statement on Scaling-up the Community-based Health Workforce for Emergencies, was launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on behalf of the Global Health Workforce Alliance, UNHCR, UNICEF and WHO. The Statement highlights the vital role of community health workers, including volunteers, in disaster risk reduction, and calls for Governments and all partners to invest in strengthening their capacity.

Health perspectives on disaster risk reduction were presented in a number of health and multisectoral forums, including a feature event on Protecting Health from Disaster Risks, chaired by the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Speakers from WHO and partner organisations contributed to sessions which addressed the following issues:

  • lessons for strengthening all-hazards preparedness arising from the global experience of multi-sectoral approach to pandemic preparedness;
  • health aspects of preparedness and response to nuclear emergencies;
  • progress on the implementation of safer hospitals initiatives in more than 42 countries, which has resulted in the assessment of more than 630 health facilities assessed for their safety and ability to function in emergencies;
  • effective restoration of health services and health facilities in the recovery and reconstruction for disasters;
  • improving the flow of climate-related information between hydro-meteorological services and the health sector for improved risk management and decision-making in the context of the Global Framework for Climate Services;
  • programmes to enhance risk assessment at all levels to inform on risk management programming by communities and countries.

WHO wishes to acknowledge the many contributors to the success of the Global Platform. In particular we express our gratitude to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the World Bank for their leadership in organizing the event, and to the international development cooperation partners which supported the Platform and the participation of speakers.

More information on the Global Platform