New report to provide key recommendations to improve hospital safety and disaster preparedness in Kyrgyzstan

Source(s): World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO is to release a new report that will provide targeted recommendations on enhancing hospital safety and disaster preparedness in Kyrgyzstan.

The report is based on an assessment of the safety of the country’s hospital system as a whole. The assessment identified weaknesses and informed remedial measures to strengthen hospital readiness and response as part of the national disaster preparedness strategy and related interventions.

The assessment took place between June 2016 and July 2017 using the WHO Hospital Safety Index tool. It reviewed 70 hospitals across the country at rayon, city, оblast and republican levels. The Ministry of Health selected the hospitals according to their strategic importance and location with reference to local- and national-level emergencies.

Hospital safety in emergencies critical for Kyrgyzstan

It is estimated that every year over 200 human-made or natural emergencies occur in Kyrgyzstan that directly or indirectly engage and/or relate to the work of the hospital sector. The country’s disaster-prone geographic location coupled with its high frequency and scale of natural and human-made emergencies make hospital safety and hospital preparedness extremely critical.

This context underscores the need to ensure that health facilities are safe from potential threats in times of crisis, and ready to meet the increased demand for care during challenging situations. The assessment of Kyrgyz hospitals was an important step towards ensuring overall preparedness for emergencies.

National experts, WHO tool

A group of international WHO experts trained national subject-matter experts in the use of the WHO Hospital Safety Index tool. The teams of civil and maintenance engineers and emergency management and coordination experts then conducted assessments in hospitals in various parts of the country. They reviewed hospital emergency plans and other safety-related documents, interviewed hospital staff and conducted physical inspections of hospital infrastructure.

The Hospital Safety Index tool comprises 3 categories: structural safety, nonstructural safety, and emergency and disaster management capacity.

Core findings and key recommendations

The assessment classified fewer than half of the evaluated hospitals (31 hospitals, or 44.3%) under safety group “B”, indicating an average level of safety. It classified the remaining 39 hospitals (55.7%) under safety group “C”, indicating a low level of safety. None of the evaluated hospitals met the criteria for a hospital with a high safety level.

Key recommendations to strengthen hospital safety in the country include:

  • developing and implementing a national programme to strengthen the safety of health-care facilities;
  • ensuring that each evaluated hospital addresses the gaps highlighted in its assessment by implementing appropriate remedial measures on a priority basis;
  • allocating specific funds in the budgets of the Ministry of Health, the Medical Insurance Fund and health-care facilities for enhancing emergency preparedness and response activities to address priority hazards and threats; and
  • outlining specific parameters for the safety of hospitals during emergencies, disasters and other crises be added to the Safe Hospitals Checklist.

WHO is aiming to enhance disaster preparedness and operational readiness at the country level. It plans to repeat such assessments every 5 years to monitor progress and ensure implementation of the identified remedial measures to strengthen hospital safety and improve overall emergency preparedness.

The assessment work was carried out with the support of the Universal Health Coverage Partnership “Supporting policy dialogue on national health policies, strategies and plans and universal coverage”, financed by the European Union, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and WHO.

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