Disaster preparedness and response capacity of regional hospitals in Tanzania: a descriptive cross-sectional study

Journal Article


Journal Title

BMC Health Services Research

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

BioMed Central


University of Cape Town

Background Tanzania has witnessed several disasters in the past decade, which resulted in substantial mortality, long-term morbidity, and significant socio-economic losses. Health care facilities and personnel are critical to disaster response. We assessed the current state of disaster preparedness and response capacity among Tanzanian regional hospitals. Methods This descriptive cross-sectional survey was conducted in all Tanzanian regional hospitals between May 2012 and December 2012. Data were prospectively collected using a structured questionnaire based on the World Health Organization National Health Sector Emergency Preparedness and Response Tool. Trained medical doctors conducted structured interviews and direct observations in each hospital. Results We surveyed 25 regional hospitals (100% capture) in mainland Tanzania, in which interviews were conducted with 13-hospital doctors incharge, 9 matrons and 4 heads of casualty. All the hospitals were found to have inadequate numbers of all cadres of health care providers to support effective disaster response. 92% of hospitals reported experiencing a disaster in the past 5 years; with the top three being large motor vehicle accidents 22 (87%), floods 7 (26%) and infectious disease outbreaks 6 (22%). Fifteen hospitals (60%) had a disaster committee, but only five (20%) had a disaster plan. No hospital had all components of surge capacity. Although all had electricity and back-up generators, only 3 (12%) had a back-up communication system. Conclusion This nationwide survey found that hospital disaster preparedness is at an early stage of development in Tanzania, and important opportunities exist to better prepare regional hospitals to respond to disasters.