Issues regarding mental health and emergencies are currently being prioritized as part of a project called “Disaster Risk Reduction in the Health Sector of the Caribbean,” implemented by the area of Emergency Situations and Mitigation in Cases of Disaster (PED) in PAHO and funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The mental health component of this project intends to provide technical support to countries to further develop national plans for mental health in emergency situations, provide training for health workers in the field, and revise teaching tools and reference materials needed for training.
On 4-6 May 2009 a workshop took place in Barbados with representatives from six countries of the Subregion as well as representatives from the Universities of West Indies (Barbados), Camaguey (CUBA), Dalhousie and McGill, Canada. Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, PAHO/WHO Mental Health Program Coordinator, Dr.Theodore-Gandi PAHO Caribbean Office Program Coordinator, and Ms. Monica Zaccarelli, WHO Regional Disaster Adviser for the Caribbean, contributed to the proceedings.The objectives of the workshop were to build a consensus of prioritized mental health issues in disasters; to analyze what health professionals involved need to know about mental health during and after a disaster; to reach an agreement on the components of a training program and the modalities for its implementation, and to identify who should be targeted for this training program. The process will continue in the coming months.