Article

Assessing the Adaptive Capacity of Hospital Facilities to Cope with Climate-Related Extreme Weather Events: A Risk Management Approach

Written by HDR's Jane Carthey in conjunction with Venny Chandra and Martin Loosemore.

Abstract

There is incontrovertible evidence that anthropogenic climate change is occurring and that this is likely to be associated with an increasing number of extreme weather events. Recent examples from around the world highlight the vulnerability of health facilities and the need to ensure that they support rather than hinder health care delivery during such events. A risk management study conducted in early 2007 for NSW Health attempted to define the extent of the problem and the adaptive strategies that should be adopted to minimise the risk of health infrastructure failing. The need for a systems approach was identified, although it was subsequently agreed that, at present, there is insufficient evidence to support the development of specific, well-defined strategies for adaptation. In particular, the impact of climate change-related extreme weather events on health service needs has not yet been accurately determined for the Australian context, nor has the adaptive capacity of existing infrastructure been adequately assessed in terms of its ability to cater for the additional demands likely to be placed upon it. It was agreed that further research is needed in a number of areas and that working within existing asset and disaster management frameworks is necessary for the development of health infrastructure with sufficient and appropriate adaptive capacity. 

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