World Health Day 2009 focuses on the safety of health facilities and the readiness of health workers who treat those affected by emergencies. Health centres and staff are critical lifelines for vulnerable people in disasters – treating injuries, preventing illnesses and caring for people’s health needs. WHO
‘World Health Day reminds us that in all the major international disasters and emergencies of recent times from the 9/11 disaster to the Chinese earthquake and Australian fires and floods, social workers have played crucial roles’, says David N Jones, President of the International Federation of Social Workers.
Social workers are in the frontline alongside other health workers in mitigating the immediate effects of catastrophic events on victims and their families and are central to long terms efforts to rebuild communities and individual lives.
Dr. Lindsey Napier, convenor of the Social Work and Health Inequalities Network emphasised that, ‘as in all health work, social and economic factors are key determinants of the outcomes of sudden disasters and emergencies and those with the least power and resources suffer most.’
Social workers in hospitals and in communities provide immediate practical relief, information and emotional support in the critical early days and their roles must be built into disaster planning. In the work of reconstruction, social workers’ skills in bringing together agencies with disparate interests and working from the bottom up to give people a voice in their own futures, are vital.
See also statement on World Health Day from the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers
International Policy on Health
IFSW Policy Statement on Health