The World Health Organisation has urged governments across the globe to build hospitals to withstand earthquakes and other disasters.
The UN agency said it is dedicating this year's World Health Day on Tuesday to the issue as the number of natural and man-made disasters increases worldwide.
Advertisement"In disasters and emergencies, health facilities are crucial to survival," said Shin Young-soo, the WHO regional director for the Western Pacific region, in a statement released here.
"Health facilities must be structurally resilient, well equipped and staffed, and with health workers who are properly trained to respond."
The WHO said the Western Pacific region was particularly vulnerable to natural disaster, citing tropical cyclones, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Last year's devastating earthquake in China destroyed or damaged more than half of Sichuan province's 6,800 hospitals, forcing tens of thousands of people to seek treatment elsewhere.
Also last year, Typhoon Fengshen damaged or destroyed 89 hospitals and health facilities in the Philippines, and a 2007 tsunami damaged many hospitals and health facilities in the Solomon Islands, exposing communities to asbestos, the WHO said.
"Research shows that damage to health facilities can cost up to 60 percent of annual government health spending, so making facilities safe can sometimes be a means of actually saving money," said Shin.
"Political will on the part of governments, leaders and hospital administrators is an important element in achieving this goal. They can ensure that hospitals are built in safe locations, that the design and construction of the facilities are sound and that staff are fully trained."
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