Earthquakes or floods can wipe out infrastructure—including health care facilities, when they’re needed more than ever. Given the risks to public health in the wake of a natural disaster, it’s important for health systems to plan ahead, according to disaster health expert Ali Ardalan.

“Health systems have to take a proactive approach, preventive measures to reduce the risk of disasters,” said Ardalan, visiting scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a senior fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, in a March 15, 2016 Reuters article.

Ardalan, chair of the Disaster and Emergency Health Academy at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, spoke at a recent Bangkok conference on health aspects of planning for disasters.

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