Humanitarian Health Action

Focus on urban risk management and health in 2010

Monthly Highlights - September 2010

WHO and other international organizations are working together with national and local partners to focus attention on the urban risks associated with emergencies and health. Several campaigns are taking place at the moment, of which the four below can be listed:

  • The World Health Day 2010 campaign Urban Health Matters calls for action on building a healthy and safe urban environment, including measures to make urban areas resilient to emergencies and disasters, such as locating health facilities in safe areas and building more resilient facilities; strengthening community preparedness and response capacity; and improved disease surveillance.
  • WHO is a partner in the World Disaster Reduction Campaign on Making Cities Resilient coordinated by the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. The campaign advocates for cities and local governments to get ready, reduce the risks and become more resilient to disaster. Assessment and upgrading of health facility safety and preparedness is included in the 10-point Checklist - Essentials for Making Cities Resilient.
  • The 2010 IFRC World Disasters Report focuses on urban risk in the context of a rapidly urbanizing world, where over half the population now lives in cities for the first time and more people than ever before live in slums. The report states that the root cause of why so many people are affected by urban disasters is that a billion people live in poor-quality homes on dangerous sites with no hazard-reducing infrastructure and no services. Chapter 5 of the report addresses Urban Risk to Health.
  • WHO is a member of the IASC Task Force on Meeting Humanitarian Challenges in Urban Areas which works to identify actions that humanitarian actors can take to make their responses to humanitarian crises in urban areas more effective, thereby saving more lives and accelerating early recovery.

More effective urban risk management also feeds into the work of WHO Country Offices, Regional Offices and headquarters and partners on strengthening community preparedness as a core component of a national health emergency risk management programme.