Assessing Hospitals for Post Earthquake Function in Nepal

Location: Nepal
Time frame: 2014

The Problem

Earthquake-related damage in hospitals can affect medical equipment and supplies, architectural elements, and critical utilities such as power, water, and medical gas. Such damage can kill or injure people and disable the hospital, even if the structure itself is sound. As part of a larger project to make hospitals safer throughout Nepal, World Health Organization engaged GHI to thoroughly evaluate seismic vulnerabilities of building utility systems, equipment, architectural finishes and contents in three high priority hospitals in Kathmandu Valley. The Valley faces a high level of seismic hazard from major active faults in the Himalaya, as evidenced by numerous damaging earthquakes. Hospitals in the region must be prepared to provide care immediately after a large earthquake. For the hospitals to fully function, not only must the buildings withstand seismic forces, but also utilities must be available and the building’s equipment, ceilings and partitions must be properly secured.

GHI’s Solution

GHI evaluated three hospitals in Nepal: Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital (popularly known as PRASUTI GRIHA), National Academy of Medical Sciences (Bir Hospital), and Kanti Children’s Hospital. The hospitals were identified as high priority due to the critical medical services they provide for a large number of people. The evaluation involved a field survey to identify threats to the hospitals’ ability to function post-earthquake. The team evaluated:


  1. Critical areas of medical care delivery: inpatient, outpatient, operating, emergency, trauma

  2. On-site utilities: fire prevention, electrical, water supply, communication, medical gas, waste

  3. Major and specialized medical equipment such as x-ray, laboratory, specialty diagnostics

  4. Architectural shell elements such as partition walls and suspended ceilings

  5. In addition, GHI’s team reviewed building plans, if available, and structural and preparedness assessments already completed.

GHI submitted a report that specified, for each hospital, both short term and long term recommendations to improve post-earthquake functionality. Some improvements such as bolting down equipment can be implemented immediately; others that involve improvements to utility infrastructure may take much longer. In each case, hospital administrators and funding agencies have a roadmap for the best steps to improve safety.