Maputo, January 2021 – UN-Habitat along with Mozambique’s Health Ministry and the Canadian Government have launched a project to ensure health facilities can withstand disasters such as cyclones, strong winds, floods and earthquakes. Some 95 health units were damaged or destroyed during the two cyclones that hit Mozambique in 2019 including the main hospital in Beira, the country’s second biggest city.

The Ministry of Health (MISAU) through the Directorate of Health Infrastructure and Equipment with UN-Habitat and financial support from the Government of Canada, officially launched the project “Safer Hospitals: Post-Disaster Reconstruction and Construction Guidelines on Safer and Gender Sensitive Health Facilities in Mozambique” on 10 December.

The launch seminar was held in Maputo, chaired by the Minister of Health, Armindo Tiago, with Caroline Delany, High Commissioner of Canada in Mozambique and Wild do Rosario, UN-Habitat’s Head of Programme in Mozambique. National and local institutions, cooperation partners and civil society organisations were also present, and witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between UN-Habitat and MISAU before joining the technical team for a discussion on resiliency and gender-inclusive health facilities.

“Over 60 per cent of our population lives in areas at high risk of natural disaster, a situation that makes it imperative that our health units guarantee continuity and protection of human life even after extreme events. This project will contribute to the creation of norms and standards for the construction of adequate infrastructure in times of emergencies,” explained the Health Minister.

The project builds on UN-Habitat’s long-term experience with resilient schools in Mozambique and aims to increase the resilience of health facilities and provides a continuous and equitable access to health services, with a special focus on girls and women who face challenges in accessing health including in times of emergency.

“Let me congratulate the actors present here for their commitment to the Safer Hospitals initiative and their Building Back Better methodology. Together we will increase resilience and reduce the risks, including the gender risks that disasters have on the physical infrastructure of health facilities,” said Canada’s High Commissioner.

The project will provide support for ongoing reconstruction efforts in the provinces of Sofala, Cabo Delgado and Manica, in line with Building-Back-Better principles to ensure future resilience. It will also guarantee technical assistance to define rules and guidelines to (re)build resilient health infrastructures to be applied within the framework of global guidelines and contribute to a better access for women and girls to health facilities, identifying barriers and making them better-adapted and more gender-sensitive.

According to the needs identified by the MISAU within the National COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan, the project team will also add activities in the scope of the Safe Hospitals initiative, so that health units reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 as well as contribute to the formulation of policies for the next pandemic peaks in partnership with WHO -Téchne network.