Background and Health Issues - 10 September
In Cuba, the principal hospitals as well as health clinics and family doctor’s facilities have suffered serious damage and are unable to function. This is jeopardizing the delivery of health care to the affected population in a country where 100% of the health services are public. In addition, the disease surveillance system and epidemiological control activities have been severely curtailed.
Within this health context, it is paramount to maintain the population informed on health measures and risk prevention activities. The project contemplates the procurement and distribution of health educational materials and emphasizes the importance of maternal and child health care as well as emergency services.
As an island, Isla de la Juventud presents special challenges for the delivery of emergency response activities. The general hospital “Héroes de Baire”, with a capacity of 396 beds, is severely damaged and not functional. This hospital delivers services to the population of 87,000. In addition, three primary health care clinics have also been damaged as well as the main emergency unit, the unit of epidemiological surveillance, and the municipal warehouse for medical supplies.
In the province of Pinar del Río, eight municipalities have been severely affected. These eight municipalities have a population of 500,000 which represents 49.2% of the total population of the province. In the municipality of San Cristobal, the hospital “Comandante Pinares” with a capacity of 440 beds, has been seriously damaged. This hospital provides medical services to almost 200,000 people who live in the eastern part of the province. In this area, a health center has also been totally destroyed and a large number of family doctor facilities are non- functional, as well as pharmacies, municipal epidemiological and surveillance centers, laboratories and other primary health care facilities. These same areas were already affected by Hurricane Gustav.
Hurricane Ike is pounding the eastern side of Cuba, and there is a Hurricane warning throughout the country. More than four inches of rain has been reported in the East. The rain will continue through the day in the rest of the country. Hurricane-force winds are affecting the Provinces of Holguin, Las Tunas and Camaguey. It is expected the Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spíritus, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, and Matanzas will suffer the same fate tomorrow.
Gustav and Hanna
A banana plantation devastated by Hurricane Gustav in Cuba.
Hurricane Gustav was the strongest storm to hit Cuba in 50 years, in terms of severity of winds (category 4-5 hurricane) and damage to agriculture and infrastructure.
Remarkably, there were no reported deaths, thanks to massive evacuation efforts on the part of national authorities. The latest figures indicate that 250,000 people were evacuated, including 77,092 in Havana, 25,000 in Southern Matanzas, and 147,994 in Pinar del Río province. More than 90,000 houses were damaged.
There has been heavy damage reported to health facilities throughout the country. Serious floods affected the Isle of Youth, and dialysis patients had to be evacuated to Havana due to the damage to health facilities. Medical teams are on standby. PAHO/WHO is in contact with the Ministry of Health and the U.N. team in the country.
Click here for the UN Assessment Report from 4 September.
Contributions/pledges to date to Cuba Appeal:
CERF US$ 1,611,677
Regional Office of the World Health Organization