PAHO Post-Disaster Guidelines for Oral Health

Natural disasters and other emergency events cause suffering to the affected population and generally disrupt the local health care system’s capacity to function. The negative impact on health services not only can undermine years of work toward improving the health system infrastructure but also introduce new barriers to the provision of primary care services, including dental and oral health. In previous disasters, oral health has been overlooked and has not been identified as a priority, even though it is an integral part of overall health that cannot be ignored.

In order to make oral health an important factor within the provision of treatment and rehabilitation services during the post-disaster recovery and rebuilding process of the health care system, it is necessary to facilitate the joint and integrated disaster response actions of the many governmental and non-governmental humanitarian aid groups involved. The purpose of the guidelines is to provide technical assistance to humanitarian actors interested in restoring and rebuilding oral health services in countries and communities affected by disasters. The guidelines will serve five primary purposes:

  1. Assist local emergency response decision–makers to determine needs on a priority basis;
  2. Sustain the implementation of appropriate emergency response measures and plans;
  3. Support the appeal to local and international potential donors to consider making a contribution to oral health programs and services;
  4. Facilitate the procurement, shipment, storage, delivery, and monitoring of donations; and
  5. Strengthen the existing oral health system by integrating oral health with primary health services.

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