Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief


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Hurricane Felix - September 2007

In Nicaragua, the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) was the most affected by Felix, and on September 5 the country's President declared a State of Disaster for the RAAN. Approximately 37,448 people have been affected in the RAAN, especially Miskito Indians in rural areas. There have been 22 confirmed deaths, but the number is expected to increase during the next few days as the search for victims continues. National experts and specialized agencies are evaluating the situation at the local level. The most urgent needs include the strengthening of disease surveillance, quality and control of water supply, recovery of affected health facilities and services and the delivery of health services. In Honduras, there have been no reports of deaths; however, many areas have been affected by the heavy rains. Most of the people that had been evacuated to shelters are returning to their homes. Water levels are being monitored due to the risk of rivers overflowing.

Nicaragua

 

Honduras

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PAHO Tools for Disasters

As the emergency response phase gradually transitions into recovery and rehabilitation and as emergency lifesaving activities slowly wind down, other areas of public health emerge as important concerns: 

Safe Hospitals: an important opportunity is at hand to rebuild these critical facilities, incorporating disaster mitigation measures to reduce their vulnerability to the avoidable consequences of disasters. Read more.

Mental Health: Given the many pressing public health concerns in the aftermath of disasters, mental health care for disaster victims can be overlooked early on. Read more about mental health services and stress management.

International Aid: The arrival of aid from outside an affected area can pose a serious challenge, particularly if it has not been requested, is inappropriate for the situation or diverts personnel from other more pressing tasks. Read more about this issue.

Food Safety: another serious public health problem in the aftermath of disasters. Consult the guidelines produced by WHO and FAO on this topic and learn about links to other WHO publications that help reduce the threat to public health of inadequate food safety measures.

Health Effects of Disasters


Natural Disasters: Protecting the Public's Health PAHO’s flagship publication on managing the health effects of disasters, it has been translated into several languages.


Management of Dead Bodies A PAHO/WHO manual that calls attention to this disaster management issue and encourages authorities to make it part of disaster plans and a key component of humanitarian assistance.

Humanitarian Supply Management and Logistics in the Health Sector These guidelines on basic aspects of the logistics of humanitarian supply management describe proper handling of supplies at each level of the logistics "chain." Some procedures are based on standards adopted by international organizations and others are the product of experience gained in the field. 

Disaster Mitigation in Health Facilities--Wind Effects Focuses on reducing the vulnerability of structural elements in hospitals and health facilities and non-structural elements (windows, shelving, etc.) and those special functions such as communication networks. 

Environmental Health in Emergencies and Disasters This volume distills what is known about environmental health during an emergency or disaster. It draws on results from the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, and on experience with sustainable development between the two Earth Summits, in Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg. The volume is intended for practitioners, as well as for policy makers and researchers, and thus covers both general and technical aspects of environmental health.

 


Intense Rains Cause Severe Damage in the Region

In the last few weeks, heavy rains, landslides and floods have affected several countries in the Region (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, among others), that have caused emergency situations with personal and material losses.

In these types of emergencies PAHO/WHO recommends that the population increase hygiene measures, including washing hands with soap and water, storing food and medicine properly, and paying attention to the recommendations from authorities regarding the consumption of safe water.

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Tropical Storm Isaac

The final toll of Tropical Storm Isaac was two people dead in the U.S. and 24 in Haiti. In addition hundreds of thousands of people were left withtout electricity. In Haiti there was an increase in cholera cases and in the Dominican Republic  hundreds of people had to be moved to shelters. Also, in the Dominican Republic six hospitals and one health center were affected by the heavy rains. 

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Floods in Central America

The low pressure system that has hit Central America since October 10 has caused floods and landslides affecting 600,000 people in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua including 55,000 people displaced to 700 shelters in the countries. The Ministries of Health have reported damages to health centers and equipments, and loss of supplies. These issues put public health at risk if they are not addressed promptly. El Salvador has declared a national emergency, and Nicaragua and Guatemala has declared a state of emergency.

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The Cholera Epidemic Maintains its Hold in Haiti (10/21/2010)

Heavy Rains and Landslides Affect Guatemala (09/08/2010)

Earthquake in Chile - February 2010 (02/27/2010)

Earthquake in Haiti - January 2010 (01/13/2010)

Hurricane Ida - November 2009 (11/09/2009)

Pandemic (H1N1) - 2009 (04/30/2009)

2008 Hurricane Season (09/30/2008)

Tropical Storms of 2008 (06/09/2008)

Tropical Storm Olga - December 2007 (12/14/2007)

Tropical Storm Noel - November 2007 (10/29/2007)

Hurricane Felix - September 2007 (09/06/2007)

Hurricane Dean in the Caribbean and Mexico - August 2007 (08/17/2007)

Earthquake in Peru - August 2007 (08/16/2007)

Methanol Poisoning in Leon, Nicaragua - September 2006 (09/18/2006)

Volcano Tungurahua - August 2006 (08/16/2006)

Floods in Suriname - May 2006 (05/10/2006)

Floods in Bolivia - January/February 2006 (01/31/2006)

Hurricane Wilma - October 2005 (10/25/2005)

Hurricane Stan Affects Central America - October 2005 (10/07/2005)

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - August 2005 (08/29/2005)

Hurricane Jeanne - September 2004 (09/18/2004)

Hurricane Ivan - September 2004 (09/09/2004)

Hurricane Frances - August/September 2004 (09/01/2004)

Torrential Rains and Flooding in the Dominican Republic and Haiti - May 2004 (05/21/2004)

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