Case Story


Click here to read the full case story (in Spanish)

Initiative Name:
Evaluating Hospital Safety for Natural Disasters
Initiative Status:
Implementation phase / on-going
Adaptation, replication or scaling up of a previous initiative?
Modality of the initiative:
Improved Quality and Access to Health Systems and Services
Environmental Health, Sustainable Development and Intersectoral Action
Seguridad Hospitalaria, Hospital Safety, Disaster, Risk Reduction, Desastres, Reducción de riesgos

Geographic Identifiers

Countries Leading or Providing Technical Cooperation:
Países de América Latina y el Caribe
Countries Demanding Technical Cooperation:
Países de América Latina y el Caribe
Participating National Institutions, Organizations and/or Subregional Entities:
Ministerios de Salud y Sistemas Nacionales de Protección y Defensa Civil, Comité Andino para la Prevención y Atención de Desastres, Centro de Prevención de Desastres de América Central, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency
Participating International and Multilateral Organizations:
Organización Panamericana de la Salud, Agencia para el Desarrollo Internacional de Estados Unidos, Agencia de Cooperación Internacional de Canadá, Agencia de Cooperación Internacional del Reino Unido, Agencia de Cooperación de la Unión Europea, Banco Mundial
Initiative Start Date:

Initiative Description

Over half of the 16,000 hospitals in Latin America and the Caribbean are located in high risk and disaster prone areas. The Hospital Safety Index (HSI) assesses the likelihood of an establishment to continue its operations in case of a natural disaster. The index takes a comprehensive look at structural, non-structural, and functional components, including the local environment and the health services network to which a facility belongs.

The index was developed through three years of rigorous debate by a multi-disciplinary group of experts from the South, facilitated by the Pan American Health Organization. The HSI evaluates 145 aspects of a health facility. The information is then entered into an Excel template with predetermined mathematical models to automatically calculate the results, categorizing facilities into three groups according to level of risk. This information facilitates decision making by national authorities to focus their risk reduction efforts in the health sector.

The HSI also catalyzed an international change in mindset regarding risk reduction and disaster management. By adding assessment components such as human resources and non-structural services required to continue operations, the Index expanded the common understanding of risk reduction beyond structural soundness. The Index transformed the desired goal from hospitals that do not collapse in case of disaster to hospitals that continue to function in case of disaster, serving the population when it is most vulnerable.

Southern experts provide training and orientation regarding use of the HSI, and a Disaster Management Advisory Group (DiMAG), a multi-disciplinary group of Southern experts in disaster risk reduction, has been assembled to provide voluntary consulting services to countries regarding risk reduction in the health sector.

Currently 29 countries in the Region of the Americas are using the HSI. The instrument has been translated into six languages and is being applied in at least 50 countries outside of the Americas.

Click here to read more about the project/initiative (in Spanish)

Additional Material:


Links and Additional Resources:

Contact Information:

Name of Contact Person:
Dr. Ciro Ugarte
Organización Panamericana de la Salud
525 23rd St. NW
Washington DC 20037
(202) 974-3708