WIT Press

Hospitals safe from disasters: a glimpse into the Mexican coastal zones


Free (open access)


Volume 8 (2018), Issue 2



Page Range

329 - 341

Paper DOI



WIT Press




Flood risks and damages due to natural phenomena are becoming more frequent in Mexican coastal zones. Given this condition, the critical infrastructure of cities must be prepared and protected for such disasters, particularly in the health sector. To face this challenge, during the World Conference on Disasters Risk Reduction in 2005, the United Nations launched the global campaign ‘Hospitals Safe from Disasters’. This campaign was based on the commitment that hospitals must be safe in order to mitigate disasters damages and hospitals must continue functioning after a disaster. Mexico together with other 168 countries became part of the compromise. In 2015, said goals and objectives were ratified in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030. Under the leadership of the National System for Civil Defense Mexico´s, the ‘Safe Hospital Program’ has been a mechanism to evaluate and certify the safety of hospitals located on disaster risk areas. Such a program broadly speaking comprises a Hospital Safety Index, an Evaluation Process, and the corresponding Evaluators Committee. Against this background, the main goal of this paper is to show the results of a long-term project that has been documenting the limits, challenges and strategies that some hospitals pose in Mexican coastal zones in order to reach the goals of the said Program. This analysis bases on semi-structured interviews with key informants in hospitals exposed to hydrometeorological hazards as hurricanes and heavy rains. Results show that in spite of a very precise developed Safety Index and detailed evaluation tools, hospitals lack in many cases of the financial resources and a ‘risk reduction culture’, or have serious technical constraints imposed by the age of the buildings. Nevertheless, they have developed strategies that could be useful for other health care facilities in the same situation


coastal zones, disasters, hospitals, Mexico, risk reduction