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WHO: Making children & youth partners in disaster risk reduction

Source(s):  World Health Organization (WHO)

The International Day for Disaster Reduction is the peak day on the calendar of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) system, which includes governments, UN agencies, civil society groups and financial bodies. ISDR is marking this year's event with the theme "Making Children & Youth Partners in Disaster Risk Reduction" WHO joins with its partners in the thematic platform on disaster risk management for health to promote and support action for healthier, safer and disaster resilient communities.

Children, especially those under the age of five, are particularly vulnerable to disaster. They are more likely to be injured, unable to access help or health care, or exposed to greater danger through separation from their families or caregivers. In most disasters, between a third and a half of the dead are children.

However, children and young people have a vital role to play when building community resilience and should be involved in planning for, responding to and recovering from natural disasters.

Actions to address the health needs of children should be given priority in disaster-related preparedness programmes and response plans of all sectors. Children need access to food, clean water, safe shelter and health care.

Before a disaster, primary health care from community health workers improves the health status of children, providing protection against diseases, good nutrition and health care to mothers and children. Good emergency preparations will ensure contingency stocks of drugs and other health supplies that are appropriate to the needs of children of all ages. Hospitals which treat children should be built safely and their staff trained in how to respond effectively and evacuate young patients to safety in an emergency.

The World Health Organization (WHO) joined the international community in celebrating International Youth Day 2011 under the theme Change the World. This theme calls on all of us to work with adolescents and young people to create a world in which they can grow and develop in a safe and supportive environment and in which they have access to the information and services they require. Young people are getting involved by learning first aid so that they can provide life-saving assistance in an emergency and by joining emergency volunteer organizations.

WHO is working with many partners to build national and community capacities to reduce the risks of disasters to the health and well-being of millions of people around the world. In 2009, WHO and the United Nations Secretariat for International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) established the thematic platform on disaster risk management for health, which is a partnership of local, national and international actors who are collaborating on actions to reduce deaths, injuries and illness from emergencies, disasters and other crises.

In May 2011 at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, WHO released a set of fact sheets on disaster risk management for health which were developed in collaboration with the Health Protection Agency of the United Kingdom and partners.

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  • Publication date 13 Oct 2011

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