The Health Risk Management department of ADPC is responsible for minimizing health-related impacts resulting from disasters. The department aims to build the resilience of health service delivery systems. In addition to assessing health policies, plans, and operations, strengthening the capacities of healthcare providers, health services, communities, and national and sub-national governments are the core objectives of the department.
Disasters often have lifelong impacts on people’s health, while at the same time exploiting existing physical and health situations to create new vulnerabilities. Health risk management initiatives will ensure that the physical and mental health needs of disaster survivors are met equitably.
The traditional focus of the health sector in emergencies has been to contribute to disaster relief efforts, including providing emergency healthcare, temporary shelter, food, and medicines. Whilst providing basic needs to disaster survivors is essential, ADPC believes that the health risk management approach, which includes health risk prevention, mitigation, and vulnerability reduction should be considered well before disaster strikes.
Strengthen the institutional capacities of national and local agencies in health emergencies:
This involves working with healthcare providers, communities, national and sub-national governments to assess policies, operations, and their capacity to build the resilience of health service delivery. In line with the ADPC Strategy 2020, building more robust health facilities is one of the key priorities of the department so that people could access the healthcare they need throughout the cycle of every disaster without confronting new risks.
Building resilient health systems:
Building resilient health systems means providing continuous services to people in need throughout an emergency. It also includes maintaining a skilled health workforce, emergency and service information, provision of standard and specialist medical products like vaccines and technologies, sufficient financing, and emergency management and leadership during and after a crisis.
By 2020, the department aims to help strengthen health systems in four countries for robust emergency healthcare by introducing suitable tools and techniques and building capacities of health workers and managers.
Integrating health risk management with risk governance:
Food and water shortages, communicable diseases, debt and poverty, security and violence, and hygiene risks can have negative impacts on people’s health when governments are least able to respond to people's needs fully. The department works to integrate health risk management with risk governance, emergency preparedness and recovery, and urban resilience, and ensures a focus on equality. It is committed to developing practical guidelines on mainstreaming DRR into the health sector in Asia and the Pacific which will help local level authorities in improving health preparedness and contingency plans.
Raising awareness of health risks and reducing vulnerability before and after an emergency:
The extent of health risk management challenges emanating from disasters go beyond preventing direct deaths and injuries; it also aims to provide new and continuing services for diseases, disabilities, malnutrition, psychosocial problems, violence, reproductive health, and other health implications. This is reflected in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which strongly stresses for health resilience throughout.
The department will work with communities in the region to build awareness of health risks and take practical actions to reduce vulnerability before and after an emergency. The department will deliver targeted training to healthcare professionals, response organizations, and communities and run campaigns in these areas to raise awareness.