PAHO/WHO Belize supports national response to Hurricane Richard which crossed central Belize
Belize City, 26 October, 2010 – The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in Belize is working very closely with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in response to Hurricane Richard which made landfall approximately 20 miles south southwest of Belize City on 24 October 2010.
In accordance with the PAHO/WHO Emergency Management Plan, the MOH was supported through the assignation of the PAHO Disaster Focal Point to their Emergency Operations Center (EOC). He was accompanied by Dr Enric Freixa, sub-regional advisor for PED based in Barbados. Led by Dr. Gustavo Vargas, PWR a.i., PAHO/WHO essential staff remained in close communication with Hon. Pablo Marin, Minister of Health; Dr. Peter Allen, MOH Chief Executive Officer and other senior health officials. The immediate liaising with the United Nations System was also established to ensure constant communication.
The MOH was advised on safety issues regarding hospitals, in particular those anticipated to be impacted. A team of MOH, PAHO and UNDP visited one of the opened hurricane shelters in Belmopan to review their preparedness level.
In the aftermath of the hurricane when the ‘All Clear’ was declared, PAHO/WHO Belize immediately supported a national aerial rapid assessment. The team that participated in the aerial assessment comprised representatives from the MOH, PAHO/WHO, UNDP, and the European Union. Subsequent to the assessment, a report was prepared jointly by the MOH and PAHO. The impact from the hurricane observed from the air was mostly minimal damage to roof tops and crops (mainly plantains) from subsistence farms. No major flooding was observed posing hazard to rural health facilities.
Although there are no signs of major flooding in Belize City, pockets of flooded areas are being monitored due to the potential for causing food-, water-, and vector-borne disease outbreaks such as diarrhea, cholera, and dengue.
PAHO/WHO Belize remains in close contact with the MOH and the UN System to monitor the health situation and to respond accordingly.
For more information please contact:
Dr. Gustavo Vargas
#4792 Coney Drive
Coney Drive Business Plaza
Belize City, Belize
Telephone: 501 224-4885