One year ago, the ministries of health of the Western Hemisphere asked PAHO/WHO to report on the status of disaster preparedness and risk reduction activities in the Americas. A survey conducted in the first half of this year illustrated that today, nearly all countries have adopted formal measures within the ministries of health to continually improve their level of preparedness and risk reduction. Although there were limitations to the survey, the resulting report represents a first step toward an objective description of the present reality across the Region.
One of the main results of the survey is that nearly all countries have some form of a disaster office or program. Other key findings point out the vulnerability of Member States to natural hazards, as well as the percentage of the population living in at-risk areas. The report also examines the national disaster program’s position within the ministry of health, as well as the level of staffing, the budget allocation for preparedness and response activities, and the main functions of the disaster office. Lastly, the report takes a look at progress toward the Safe Hospitals Initiative in the Americas. Read the entire report, which was presented to PAHO’s Directing Council in late September 2006, at www.paho.org/english/gov/cd/CD47-inf4-e.pdf.