WHO, partners release new guidance on disability and emergency risk management

WHO and its partners jointly released new guidance to help countries meet the special needs of people living with disabilities during all phases of emergencies. For the International Day for Disaster Reduction, 13 October 2013, WHO focuses on the challenges that people with disabilities face during emergencies.

Such people are among the most vulnerable and neglected in emergency situations. One fifth of the world’s population, over 1 billion people, live with disabilities. Emergencies can create additional barriers for them in accessing essential health and other social services. Their special needs should be considered throughout the prevention, preparedness, response, recovery and reconstruction phases of an emergency.

WHO work with countries

WHO/Europe works with countries to strengthen and prepare health systems to manage potential health crises and to protect people’s lives. Engaging with communities to improve their coping capacities and resilience in disasters is an important aspect this work. Preparedness plans should include vulnerable groups’ specific needs in line with the broader European health policy framework, Health 2020.

Managing health crises effectively, from preparedness to recovery, is central to WHO’s mandate. WHO’s Global Emergency Management Team will meet in Copenhagen on 15–17 October 2013 to discuss how to improve WHO’s performance in emergencies within its new Emergency Response Framework.