About Us

A Region at Risk

Many communities in Latin America and the Caribbean lie in the path of hurricanes, sit at the foot of volcanoes, rest along flood plains and are located in earthquake-prone areas. 

In the last three decades alone, 160 million people have been affected by natural disasters in this Region.

Each year, this number grows at an alarming rate, posing serious challenges to public health and development.

New threats to public health demand a broader scope of work

PAHO/WHO works with member countries to…
… face the threat and reality of pandemic influenza
… be prepared for chemical, radiological and technological disasters
… cope with climate change, a worldwide phenomenon that is altering the magnitude and frequency of disasters.

Our Commitment to the countries of Latin America
and the Caribbean

Prepare…
for the disasters of today and tomorrow

A well-prepared health sector can mean the difference between life and death.

PAHO/WHO supports national partners to: 

Reduce risk...
to lessen the impact of disasters on health

PAHO advocates for health risk reduction by:

Respond...
to health needs caused by emergencies and disasters

When disaster strikes, PAHO provides immediate public health assistance, working to assess needs in the health sector. Disease surveillance, ensuring access to health services and monitoring drinking water are a few of the main health priorities during response.

PAHO works with countries to:  

Information Resources

PAHO generates and disseminates knowledge about all aspects of disaster preparedness, risk reduction and management by:

To learn more about PAHO’s knowledge products, visit our Publications Catalog at www.healthanddisasters.info.

Safe hospitals
a national priority and a collective responsibility

PAHO is committed to ensuring that hospitals are there when people need them most. An essential lifeline in the community, a safe hospital is one that does not collapse in disasters and continues to
function, delivering essential services during and after emergencies. 

PAHO works with countries in the region to:

Hospital Safety Index

A quick and effective means of assessing a health facility’s level of safety and determining the likelihood that it will stand up to disasters. More than 32 countries in the Americas have used this tool to identify risk and prioritize corrective measures –the smallest of which can go a long way toward improving resilience.

Emergency Operations Center

PAHO’s Headquarters’ Emergency Operations Center (EOC) coordinates the entire Organization’s health-related emergency response activities. Whether it’s an emerging outbreak or an evolving hurricane, the EOC:

The EOC also convenes PAHO’s Disaster Task Force, a vital coordinating mechanism that gathers HQ staff around the same table, ensuring that communication flows and that PAHO/WHO member states benefit from an effective and timely response.

Our Regional Response Team

Hundreds of public health experts are stationed in PAHO/WHO member countries. In emergencies and crises, PAHO harnesses this expertise and deploys a regional emergency response team to meet the health needs of the affected population.

A wide variety of experts, including specialists in:

are available at a moment’s notice to assess immediate needs and potential risks, provide advice to national and international counterparts, help governments coordinate international assistance and generate data and information for situation reports and funding appeals.