World Health Day is April 7th, 2009


April 7, 2009


  PRESS RELEASE 04/07/2009 | For Immediate Release


Focus on Emergency Medical Services

by Arjumand Thompson


Dear Subscribers -

Galle, Sri Lanka: (© 2005 Don Hinrichsen, Courtesy of Photoshare"Save lives. Make hospitals safe in emergencies". That is the theme of World Health Day 2009, an event initiated by the World Health Organization to focus on the safety and readiness of emergency health care systems. The Disease Control Priorities Project (DCPP) is taking this World Health Day to highlight strategies to meet the need for emergency care services. At any time, natural and human-made crises, such as those that arise from tsunami's, earthquakes, hurricanes, and wars; or those that arise from the complexity of the human condition like disease, illness, childbirth and accidents, can strike and trigger acute situations that require an emergency response.  Adequate healthcare facilities, well-trained health providers, and readily available healthcare services keep critical medical situations under control.

But more importantly, emergency medical care delivered in the first few hours after the onset of an acute medical condition prevents urgent situations from becoming potential disasters.

In order to best save lives, an effective emergency care system must incorporate pre-hospital care, transportation, and hospital care. Trained "first responders" skilled at assessing acute medical conditions ensure that patients receive basic life-saving emergency treatment, and quick transport to the nearest medical facilities before potentially life-threatening situations become fatal.  Well-staffed, well-equipped, and safe hospitals offering high-level medical care by qualified health providers are then absolutely necessary to takeover where first response systems left off. Cost-effective funding options and resource mobilization efforts to finance healthcare systems are the key to helping hospitals and medical facilities in low income countries reach these standards.

Unfortunately, when natural disaster strikes, as in the case of the most recent earthquake in Italy, healthcare systems and hospital resources are stretched to capacity. For many poor countries already vulnerable to natural disasters due to poor infrastructure, climate change, and unplanned development, the impact is even greater. Money and resources for emergency preparedness and disaster management is limited. Scarce funds that were to be used for other projects--possibly public health initiatives or poverty reduction programs-must now be diverted to cover the costs of emergency health interventions, construction of emergency makeshift medical facilities (such as temporary shelters and field hospitals), as well as financing the cleanup and rebuilding of existing hospitals.

Read more about emergency medical care and financing health systems at

Visit the sites below to see how some organizations around the world recognize World Health Day 2009.

World Health Day 2009 Around The World

 International: World Health Organization | WHO - Southeast Asia

Africa: African Woman and Child Feature Service (AWCFS) | All Africa

 Asia: China View | India News 


DCPP has developed several technical resources to address this important issue. Visit to find out more. 

Emergency Medical Care:   

DCP Chapter 68: Emergency Medical Services  

DCP Chapter 61: Natural Disaster Mitigation and Relief&

Strengthening Emergency Medical Services: A Matter of Life and Death in Low-Income Countries

Renforcement des services médicaux d'urgence: Une question de vie ou de mort dans les pays à faible revenu

 Reforzar los servicios médicos de urgencia: Un tema de vida o muerte en países de bajos ingresos   

Referral Hospitals: Vital Services, not Disease Palaces   

Natural Disasters: Coping with the Health ImpactConclusions: Promises and Pitfalls    


Images courtesy of:
Galle ,Sri Lanka © 2005 Don Hinrichsen, Courtesy of Photoshare





Arjumand Thompson is a Program Associate with the Disease Control Priorities Project.


Arjumand Thompson
+1 (202) 939-5486



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