7 April 2018
Protecting Health in Times of Disaster: IFLA Announces New Special Interest Group
IFLA is proud to announce the creation of its new Special Interest Group on Evidence for Global and Disaster Health (E4GDH). This group will bring together members of the global library field engaged in raising awareness of the potential of libraries to promote better health and wellbeing for all, especially those threatened or hit by disasters, both natural and man-made.
The most fundamental threat posed by disasters is to human health. To give keeping people alive and healthy the priority it needs, governments around the world have undertaken, through the United Nations' Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, to improve the way they prepare for, and respond to disasters.
To do this, it is essential to have a full understanding of risks, as well as accurate and timely facts about evolving situations. This cannot be done without the collection, organisation and sharing of information. In this, libraries are the specialists.
IFLA has therefore set up a dedicated Special Interest Group (SIG) for Evidence for Global and Disaster Health (E4GDH). While a number of major public health initiatives and networks already exist, this will work to raise awareness and interest of this field within IFLA, and promote collaboration with other agencies and organisations.
It will also help strengthen the case for libraries as providers of health information, and advocate for their roles. These range from supporting core research in health and biosciences, providing knowledge to support community-based public health services, to the practical support and literacy provided by public libraries. It will draw on the expertise of sections focused both on specific user groups such as women, and on skills development, and will look to map existing work and identify priorities for future action.
By doing this, the new SIG will both share ideas and expertise, and allow IFLA to explain more clearly to the UN, other international bodies and governments why libraries need to be at the heart of disaster risk management, preparedness, and recovery policies regarding heath.