Press Release
February 20, 2010


Senator Loren Legarda urged the government to reinforce public and private hospitals against earthquakes and other natural calamities to minimize casualties and provide emergency aid.

Loren recalled the Baguio earthquake years ago which caused grave loss of life and extensive damage to property, including hospitals.

"Hospitals and other health facilities are critical public infrastructures, especially in times of disaster when victims need emergency services and medical care. Therefore, hospitals should be disaster-proof and disaster resilient. This is a must which cannot be compromised," declared Loren, who is currently the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Demography and Health. She added, "Climate change is another driver of vulnerability that will impact on our health care system and compound this risk. Hospitals should be structurally and organizationally resilient to any disasters. Health facilities and all health workers should be able to function fully, efficiently, and effectively during emergencies."

More over the lady Senator who is the UN "champion" for disaster risk reduction in the Asia-Pacific region said that this is essentially the message of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the World Health Organization in this year's continuing bi-annual campaign for hospitals safe from disasters.

Loren said that based on international studies, the cost of disaster-proofing a hospital or health facility would add only 4percent to the cost of construction. This cost is nothing compared to the risk of destruction and death of patients and staff during a disaster, and the equally high health, economic and development impacts in the aftermath.

"Building the resilience of the health sector to disasters is a worthy investment. It brings the double benefit of saving lives and achieving our development goals. This fact should be appreciated by the national and local governments and the private sector who have invested much in the country's health care system and share common responsibilities in running it," she said.

At the fiscal level, Loren urged Congress to push the executive branch into using part of the giant economic stimulus package to fortify and enhance the structural integrity of major government-run hospitals, regional hospitals, provincial hospitals and emergency clinics in the towns. The private health sector should be encouraged to do the same.

Loren further urged Congress to revisit the National Building code to find out whether or not there is a need to update the provisions of the Code to fulfill the requirements of disaster risk reduction.

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