Update of PAHO Response to Hurricane Tomas

In Saint Lucia, Hurricane Tomas caused 8 deaths, major damage to key health facilities, water supply systems, as well as property and agricultural crops. Electricity has been re-established and some water supply function has now been restored but many areas are still without piped water. Two suspected leptospirosis cases are currently under investigation; however according to the Ministry of Health dengue and diarrheal disease cases have not increased. Water quality, food safety and limited surveillance capacity remain problematic. Health centers are experiencing difficulties with access, staff exhaustion and water storage. PAHO is supporting the deployment of a nurse midwife from Grenada who arrived in Saint Lucia on December 1st, 2010, to assist in Soufriere, where patients cannot be referred to a hospital. A project manager has been deployed for two weeks beginning on December 1st, and an environmental health advisor returned from Saint Lucia on the same day following a weeklong trip to support the distribution of supplies, provide training and assess current needs.

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Hurricane Tomas created major damage to homes and crops. Electricity and water supply has been re-established. Water testing is in progress. Health centers have access to water but are vulnerable without water tanks and generators. Surveillance systems are in place but food security remains a concern.

Both Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are part of a sub-regional cholera preparedness program, which is currently in its initial phase.

PAHO role: Lead for Health and Water and Sanitition Hygiene (WASH) Coordination.

Funding of 200 000 € received from ECHO (European Commission Humanitarian Directorate) to support health and WASH activities in both Saint Lucia and St. Vincent.