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Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief

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Recommendations for the Care of Children in Emergencies

During emergencies, the physical well-being and health of children are at greater risk due to the constraints on mobilizing them swiftly. However, preparations to meet a possible disaster and the decisions made for the proper and timely protection of children before, during, and after such an event can be decisive in safeguarding their health, and averting further suffering and physical or emotional harm.

  • Promote a census or registry of minors for the identification of children in the geographical jurisdiction. Classify minors according to their age: newborn (up to 30 days), children under one year old, from one to five years old, and five years or older.
  • Identify and record all newborns in the area and locate those with any of the following problems: deficient thermoregulation, neonatal respiratory insufficiency, and low birthweight. Assign daily special surveillance to these cases.
  • Set priorities for the care of newborns, chiefly for those with problems in regulating body temperature.
  • Promote exclusive breast-feeding for infants under six months old.
  • Encourage the early immunization of minors, and ensure that vaccination series are completed according to national standards or, lacking these, follow the standards of the Expanded Program on Immunization of PAHO.
  • Ensure good nutrition for children, and monitor the protection of minors through the supply of food supplements - where indicated - and nutritional surveillance.
  • Ensure that minors are ingesting enough fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Identify cases of children with diarrhea and respiratory infections, establish appropriate treatment according to national standards, and monitor cases up through the recovery phase. Duly report to the epidemiological emergency surveillance system.
  • Establish mechanisms to prevent accidents, violent acts against, and abuse of children.
  • Insofar as possible, establish health care services with trained staff in the shelters and temporary refuges.


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