Guidance for health sector assessment to support the post-disaster recovery process
Disasters can have profound impacts on the livelihoods and health of affected populations. Restoring life-saving services and assisting communities to cope with former and new health threats is a necessity to mitigate the impacts of disasters on human development needs.
The United Nations agencies, the World Bank and the European Commission have collaborated closely on the development of new post-disaster assessment guidance required to formulate a national recovery framework. In addition to the Damage and Loss Assessment methodology developed by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which is concerned with the financial impact of a disaster, this new guidance also takes into account a more in-depth analysis of the impact on communities and the performance of national systems to deliver services and goods. The essence of the project has been to come up with a recovery plan that goes beyond reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and compensation of financial losses to include a “building back better” approach. For the health sector this means mostly:
- ensuring the resilience of the health infrastructure so that it is able to withstand a new disaster (World Health Day 2009 on Making hospitals safe in emergencies).
- ensuring better risk management and preparedness of the health system and communities to respond swiftly and appropriately in case of a new disaster.
- addressing some of the pre-existing constraints or weaknesses in service delivery and/or health governance to improve access to and quality of essential health services.
As such, disaster recovery planning present opportunities to support the implementation of existing national health reform policies.
This ongoing process has led to the production of new guidance across all sectors. These developments were supported by virtual working groups. WHO chaired the group dedicated to the health sector, that included representatives from several United Nations agencies, the World Bank and the European Commission. A meeting last December was organized among the main stakeholders to take stock of the most recent developments. For health, a more in-depth technical consultation with key internal and external stakeholders is being planned for April 2011.