Baylor Environmental Scientist to Speak at Pandemics Webinar Presented by World Health Organization and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

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Benjamin Ryan, Ph.D., clinical associate professor of environmental science at Baylor University
April 5, 2020

Event will focus on the need for stronger coordination among disaster managers and health workers during pandemics such as COVID-19

Media Contact: Terry Goodrich, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-654-4155
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WACO, Texas (April 5,2020)– Benjamin Ryan, Ph.D., clinical associate professor of environmental science at Baylor University, will be a keynote speaker at a global webinar presented by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the World Health Organization at 8 a.m. Tuesday, April 7.

The webinar — “Resilience of local governments: A multi-sectoral approach to integrate public health and disaster risk management” — will address how public health system capacity is crucial to reduce the impact of pandemics. Experience from past epidemics and the current COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate the need to break down silos between disaster managers, health workers and other sectors.

A multi-sectoral approach is required to integrate public health and disaster risk management into everyday practices, according to a statement by UNDRR and WHO. This can only be achieved through systematic integration of health into national and sub-national disaster risk reduction policies and plans.

This session will introduce the Public Health Addendum of the Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities and describe how this tool can systematically support strengthened planning and coordination among disaster managers and health workers, said Mami Mizutori, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of UNDRR.

Mizutori urges national and local disaster management agencies to include health emergencies as a top priority, alongside earthquakes, floods, storms and other natural hazards. Governments must prioritize resilient health systems, she said.

“This is a great opportunity, and recognition of Baylor University’s global exposure, to demonstrate how we can influence, shape and participate in resilience building strategies across the globe,” said Ryan, who also is program coordinator for Baylor’s environment health science program.

Key questions will be:

  • How can public health aspects be integrated into disaster risk reduction and resilience planning?
  • What is the Public Health Addendum of the Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities and how can this tool support and strengthen planning and coordination among disaster managers and health workers?
  • The capacity of public health systems is crucial to reduce the impact of pandemics, as clearly discussed in the practical experience from countries like P.R. China and the Republic of Korea practical experience from countries like P.R. China and the Republic of Korea.

    Promoting systematic integration of health into national and sub-national disaster risk reduction policies and plans is a key recommendation of the Bangkok Principles for the implementation of the health aspects of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

    The Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management Framework (HEDRM) of the World Health Organization is the overarching framework. The public health addendum of the Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities is a tool designed for use by local governments to enhance resilience, as guided by the HEDRM Framework.

    In addition to Ryan, other key speakers will be Peter Williams, Ph.D., retired IBM Distinguished Engineer; and Rajib Shaw, D.S., professor of the Graduate School of Media and Governance at Keio University, Japan.

    ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

    Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 18,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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