Humanitarian Health Action

Emergency risk management for health


Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction - 2013

The 4th session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction is taking place in Geneva, 19 - 23 May 2013. The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction brings together stakeholders from all sectors, governments, NGOs and civil society, international agencies and organizations, academic and technical institutions, and the private sector who are committed to reducing disaster risk and building the resilience of communities and nations. WHO is co‐organising a series of events at the Global Platform to address health dimensions, including a Feature Event on the Health Imperative for Community Safety and Resilience and meetings of the Thematic Platform on Disaster Risk Management for Health. The Global Platform provides the forum to review progress on implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) as well as articulating the vital health inputs to the on‐going dialogue on the successor framework to the current HFA.

Integrating sexual and reproductive health into health emergency and disaster risk management

On 12 October 2012, CARE, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Sprint, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, Women’s Refugee Commission, and WHO are launching a policy brief "Integrating sexual and reproductive health into health emergency and disaster risk management". Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is a significant public health need in all communities, including those facing emergencies. This policy brief discusses the integration of SRH in all aspects of health emergency and disaster risk management, both for immediate health needs, such as saving lives in obstetric complications, as well in the long-term to reduce vulnerability and to support sustainable development of sexual and reproductive health services in health systems and communities.

Joint Statement on Scaling-up the Community-based Health Workforce

On 20 October 2011, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Global Health Workforce Alliance, UNHCR, UNICEF and WHO are launching the Joint Statement on Scaling-up the Community-based Health Workforce for Emergencies. 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. The community-based health workforce plays a vital role in building local resilience to disasters and should be scaled-up to protect public health from the increasing number of emergencies around the world.

1 Million Safe Hospitals and Safe Schools Campaign

The One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Campaign is a global advocacy initiative to make schools and hospitals safer from disasters. This initiative is part of the 2010-2011 World Disaster Risk Reduction Campaign on "Building Resilient Cities - My city is getting ready!"

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.

WHO supports countries in building national capacity in risk reduction and emergency preparedness, and to assist the health sector in Member States in reducing the adverse public health consequences for communities in terms of mortality, morbidity, disability and damage to health care delivery services resulting from emergencies, disasters and other crises.

Priority areas

  • Assessing and monitoring baseline information on the status of risk reduction and emergency preparedness in the health sector at regional and country levels.
  • Institutionalizing risk reduction and emergency preparedness programmes in ministries of health and establishing an effective all-hazard/whole-health programme for this purpose
  • Encouraging and supporting community-based risk reduction and emergency preparedness programmes
  • Improving knowledge and skills in risk reduction and emergency preparedness and response in the health sector.


WHO strategy in risk reduction and emergency preparedness is based on an “All-Hazard / Whole-Health” approach.

  • Multi-agency: facilitate partnerships among agencies, institutions and individuals which contribute to health risk reduction.
  • Multi-sectoral: reflect that health and other sectors work together to manage the health emergency risks caused by the interaction of the vulnerability and resilience of people, hazards or agents, and their social, cultural, natural and built environments.
  • Multi-disciplinary: take account of the contributions of many disciplines in health and other fields required to manage the risks to health.
  • All-hazard: address risks of emergencies from all sources, including natural, technological, biological and societal hazards.
  • Risk management: adopt a risk management approach, with a focus on proactive measure to manage risk, including risk assessment, prevention, and preparedness and associated functions such as policy development, communication, monitoring and evaluation, and capacity development. Risk reduction should also be integrated into disaster response, recovery and rehabilitation by strengthening communities, institutions and systems to reduce future risks.
  • Disaster Risk Reduction: The conceptual framework of elements considered with the possibilities to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society, to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse impacts of hazards, within the broad context of sustainable development (source ISDR).
  • Emergency preparedness: Activities and measures taken in advance to ensure effective response to the impact of hazards, including the issuance of timely and effective early warnings and the temporary evacuation of people and property from threatened locations (source ISDR).

WHO six-year strategy for risk reduction and emergency preparedness

WHO as the lead agency for addressing the health aspects of emergency preparedness and response, has developed a strategy - based on the recommendations of a global consultation held by WHO in February 2006 - to help mitigate the effects of crises, coordinate the response and thus save lives and reduce suffering.

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