UNPLANNED development intensifies the vulnerability of people to natural disasters.
This was the warning to PNG given by United Nations acting resident coordinator Asger Rhyl yesterday at the launch and observance gathering to mark International Disaster Reduction Day and also the National Disaster awareness campaign for the next 12 months.
Mr Rhyl said that poorly regulated natural resource extraction, environmental degradation, deforestation, pollution of land and water resources, coupled with lack of preparedness to manage crisis situations, contributed to makings of a disaster.
“PNG must learn from the impacts of its recent natural disasters that had occurred here and also most recently within Asia-Pacific and make adequate contingency preparations for its people now,” he said.
“It must not forget that due to its unique geo-climatic conditions, PNG is highly vulnerable to the impacts of natural disasters and at any time the country can be hit by a natural disaster,” Mr Rhyl said.
With the theme of the International Disaster Reduction Day “Hospital safe from disasters”, he stressed that it was of great concern for PNG to provide emergency health care services to the affected population in the aftermath of a disaster, which it was not prepared for at this stage.
“When health facilities are damaged , so too, is the ability to effectively respond to a crisis situation and building hospitals involve significant capital investment and the investment needs to be protected against disaster.”
He said it had been estimated by UN findings that the incorporation of mitigation measures into the design and construction of a hospital, which will ensure the resilience of the building and other elements, only account for less that 4% of the total initial investment, thus, making new hospitals and health facilities safe from disaster is not costly.
Mr Rhyl said it was important to put in place hospital contingency planning and build the capacity of all health workers to deal with crisis situations.
“I urge all Government departments, civil societies, international institutions and the private sector to step up the country’s efforts to reduce disaster risks as it is everyone’s business,” he said.