How the Integration of Health and Disaster Risk Reduction Can Set Asia-Pacific on a Path Towards Resilience

Hussein Amach, O.
Publication language
Date published
05 Mar 2021
Coordination, Multi-sector/cross-sector, Development & humanitarian aid, Disaster preparedness, resilience and risk reduction, Disasters, COVID-19, Epidemics & pandemics, Health, Recovery and Resillience, Standards
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)

The COVID-19 pandemic was in many an unexpected event that caught the world off guard. The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report, for example, did not include pandemics in its list of 10 most likely risks.

However, while the pandemic was unexpected, it was not unavoidable. A number of global framework and guidelines were developed in recent years to prevent and manage the occurrence of such disasters. Key among them is the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which includes biological hazards, such as pandemics, as one of the main risks that countries ought to plan against in line with the International Health Regulations (2005).

This was followed by the development of the Bangkok Principles in 2016, which call for strengthening the integration between the disaster and health management sectors, and in 2019, the release of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management (EDRM) Framework.

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated a need to ensure that the policy recommendations of these frameworks are followed by countries to both effectively deal with the ongoing crisis and minimize the possibility and impact of a future one.

To facilitate this and to encourage the exchange of lessons from cross-sectoral collaborations in the context of COVID-19, the Asia-Pacific Regional Office of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the WHO South-East Asia Regional Office organized a webinar, on 24 February, directed at health and disaster risk reduction focal points across the region.

The webinar, which saw the participation of 473 people, in part of a series of joint efforts between UNDRR and WHO since the onset of the pandemic to strengthen the links between disaster risk reduction and public health.

UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction