The World Health Organization is pledging its support to the One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Campaign launched yesterday in Manila. The goal of the new United Nations' global campaign is to protect health and educational facilities, and the millions of people who rely on them for healthcare and learning, from emergencies.

"This campaign is unique because it offers people from all walks of life the opportunity to protect their hospitals and schools, and in turn save lives," says Dr Eric Laroche, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Action in Crises. "Members of the public, governments, health workers and hospital staff can all find a way to actively support this initiative to make one million hospitals and schools safe from disasters."

Supporting the campaign

People can make pledges under three types of categories, including:

  • volunteering to raise awareness about safe schools and hospitals;
  • leading or supporting safety and disaster preparedness activities;
  • donating time and/or resources to make hospitals and schools safer by buying safety equipment, maintaining surroundings and repairing facilities.

By pledging its support to the campaign, WHO will continue its work in advocating and supporting action with governments, health professionals and other partners to ensure the structural and functional safety and preparedness of health facilities so they can continue treating people who need healthcare following emergencies.

Launching "One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Campaign"

The campaign was launched during yesterday's opening of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Forum on Safe Hospitals in Manila, which was attended by governments throughout the South-East Asia region, United Nations agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

The new schools and hospitals campaign is part of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction's 2010-2011 World Disaster Reduction Campaign, which is titled Building resilient cities, addressing urban risk.

World Health Day

This week, WHO also marked its annual World Health Day event with the launch of its "1000 cities - 1000 lives" campaign which highlights the impact of urban living on health and encourages efforts to make cities healthier places for people to live. A key focus of the World Health Day campaign is to make urban areas resilient to emergencies and disasters.