Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief

Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief


Monitoring Emergencies

From official sources (O.S.) and media (M). It does not represent PAHO's official position.

El Salvador 10/21/2014

Floods. Five people have died as a result of this month’s rainfall. The continued rain has produced landslides and the collapse of walls and drains. In addition, the landslide susceptibility conditions are moderate to high across the country. (o.s.: Civil Protection, SNET; m.c.: La Prensa Gráfica).

Guatemala 10/21/2014

Orange alert for rain. 64% of the territory has very high probabilities of landslides and floods. Unstable conditions continue throughout the country. There are 12.059 people affected due to landslides, flooding and damage to infrastructure. Increase in the flow of seven rivers and the collapse of drains have been attributed to the rainfall. (o.s.: CONRED; m.c.: Prensa Libre).

Honduras 10/21/2014

Floods. About 5,004 people are isolated and 4,998 more have been evacuated to shelters due to the rains that hit the country; three people have died and three are missing. In La Costa de los Amates about 3,000 people have been isolated by the flooding of the Goascoran river. In La Mosquitia the rising waters of the Coco River have left 2,004 people held isolated. Rainfall has also left 4,998 people affected, of which 2,499 have been evacuated and 2,499 are living in shelters. The rise of the Choluteca River has the lowlands of the south on alert. COPECO has alerted the population of water contamination in areas where floods and overflows have been recorded. (o.s.: COPECO; m.: La Tribuna).

Nicaragua 10/21/2014

Rainfall. A Yellow Alert remains in effect as rainfall is expected to persist in the country, mainly in Rivas, Granada, Masaya, San Juan River, Southern Caribbean and the Autonomous Region. 24 people have died and there are 60,000 people affected in 17 departments. 5,852 houses have been damaged, of which 881 have been vacated due to high risk. 224 miles of roads have been damaged and 87 have been destroyed, as well as wells, bridges and latrines. National response. (o.s.: INETER; m.: La Voz del Sandinismo).

Mexico 10/21/2014

Hurricane Trudy. At least six people were killed, 2,300 were evacuated and 16 people remained are isolated after the passage of Tropical Storm Trudy, that has since been downgraded to a depression, in the state of Guerrero. The natural phenomenon mainly affected the municipalities of Huamuxtitlán, Tlalixtaquilla and Malinaltepec. In Oaxaca the local government informed of the overflow of the Juchatengo and Toltec rivers. Authorities issued a preventive red alert both in Guerrero and Oaxaca, due to the heavy rains produced by the storm. (o.s.: Protección Civil; m.c.: CNN).

El Salvador 10/21/2014

Floods. Five people have died as a result of this month’s rainfall. The continued rain has produced landslides and the collapse of walls and drains. In addition, the landslide susceptibility conditions are moderate to high across the country. (o.s.: Civil Protection, SNET; m.c.: La Prensa Gráfica).

New Publications for Disaster Response Teams

Psychosocial Support in Emergencies and Disasters

This practical guide to mental health and psychosocial support has been produced with a psychosocial and community approach, so that the intervention center can detect and anticipate problems and strengths with a community perspective. It has been designed to be a user-friendly tool and application for emergency response teams. It has been specifically designed for primary health care teams and those persons, institutions or organizations involved with these teams in responding to emergencies and providing humanitarian aid.

The main references for the preparation of the guide have been the Practical Guide for Mental Health in Disaster Situations, published by PAHO/WHO in 2006 and the IASC Guidelines on mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian emergencies and disasters, published by the Interagency Standing Committee (IASC) in 2007.

Guidelines for the Preparation of Simulation Exercises and Drills for Emergencies and Disasters

One of the most appropriate instruments to evaluate and test preparedness and response plans are simulation exercises and drills; for many years these have been widely used by organizations involved in preparedness or response to disasters. In addition, simulations and drills are also excellent training instruments; they are useful in assessing tools and processes, in decision-making exercises, in teamwork, and in coordination within and between sectors.

In preparing this publication, the Pan American Health has worked with a group of experts from Latin America and the Caribbean systematizing and reviewing experiences to prepare a set of practical guidelines to facilitate the planning and execution of drills and simulations. The guide sets the standard for the organization, development and evaluation of drills and simulations and raises the different uses can be given to these exercises, always in the context of emergencies and disasters. This tool aims to support primarily but not exclusively, health organizations, in their process of reviewing and updating disaster and/or emergency preparedness and response plans.

Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis in the Health Sector during Disaster Situations

Disasters have negative health effects that vary by type of event, the site of impact and its socioeconomic characteristics, the level of exposure of the population and their preparedness, the quality of infrastructure and response capacity installed, among other factors. Only with precise knowledge of the damage and effects it can be determined where help is needed. Damage assessments and evaluation of needs help identify the impact of a disaster, risk factors for health and needs in technical areas such as water and sanitation, epidemiological surveillance, health services, shelters, among others.

This new edition of the Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis (DANA) (the original was published in 2004) puts emphasis on the organization of the health sector, from the establishment of an emergency operating committee to the health situation room, a structure that should be replicated at the national, regional and local levels. The characteristics of DANA are analyzed and formats models for the collection and analysis of health information are presented. The intention is that decision making is based on quality technical information, to diagnose, prioritize, plan for intervention and request resources for responding to emergencies effectively.

Order copies of these publications (in Spanish only) from This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or download here as a PDF file.  You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read these files. Download the software for free from the Adobe website.

Apoyo psicosocial en emergencias y desastres (5.19 MB)
Guía para el desarrollo de simulaciones y simulacros de emergencias y desastres (1.7 MB)
Evaluación de daños y análisis de necesidades de salud en situaciones de desastre (6.67 MB)


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Knowledge Center on Public Health and Disasters 



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