PAHO/WHO promotes creation of smart hospitals in Americas to operate during emergencies and natural calamities
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) are promoting the creation of “smart” hospitals in the Americas to operate during emergencies and mitigate their impact on the environment. Seven of out of ten of these health centers of Latin America and the Caribbean are located in high risk areas of disasters. The issue was discussed during a Latin American congress in Ushuaia. Under the theme “Building Health in extreme scenarios”, 200 professionals attended the conference from Argentina and externally shared experiences and projects with various technological advances in architecture and engineering with a specialization in Health. Hospitals considered safe in operation and favorable with the environment were called “smart”. These health centers combine structure and safety with favorable environmental interventions and reasonable cost-benefit ratio. These benefits affect the decision of people to go to health centers, for e.g., number of users who sought care grew 40 percent in Caribbean hospitals. Actions that are planned at these health centers include, strengthening roofs and windows, installation of water tanks to collect rainwater for services, placing solar panels, accessibility for people with disabilities, installations LED bulbs and replacement of air-conditioning equipment with more efficient models. PAHO/WHO conducts Project Health Facilities Smart (SMART) funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). In order to guide health managers toward smart hospitals, PAHO/WHO and a team of specialists in public health environment, disaster, engineering, architecture, economics, energy developed a toolkit that includes Security Index hospital (rapid assessment tool to know the probability that a health facility continues to operate disaster), an assessment tool baseline (which provide guidance on interventions that can reduce costs and improve efficiency of resources), a list of “green” verification (to minimize the impact of operations of hospitals on climate change) and a methodology of cost-benefit analysis to support decision-making and promote the smartest investment.