Posted in Issue 100 August 2005 Editorial
It was 1979 when PAHO published the first issue of its quarterly newsletter Disaster Preparedness in the Americas (the word “mitigation” was added to the title in 1992). At that time, PAHO had neither e-mail nor a fax machine to keep abreast of disaster preparedness activities in and beyond the Americas. Instead, the Organization relied on a steady stream of memos and cables to learn about meetings, research, publications and other initiatives underway within the relatively small disaster community. The first newsletter was typed (yes, on a typewriter), photocopied and sent by hand to a very limited circle of people who were interested in developing contacts and learning more about this area of growing interest: preparing to face the health effects of disasters.
Today, many things have changed. Not only is the software and hardware used to put together a newsletter much more sophisticated, the number and diversity of channels (some would say the excess of channels) through which we receive news have multiplied at such a rapid pace that it is virtually impossible to keep up with who is doing what in the Americas, let alone the rest of the world.
Did you know . . .
- Since 1998, the share of readers from outside North America (Canada, Mexico and the US) has increased by 2%.
- The number of those who subscribe to the electronic newsletter has reached an all-time high of 6,500 or 25% of total subscribers.
- Our Caribbean readership comprises 14% of all of our present subscribers.
- Which country in the Americas (excluding the U.S.) has the largest number of readers of Disasters: Preparedness and Mitigation in the Americas? Mexico, followed by Colombia and Peru.
- Subscribers in Mexico, Central America and South America make up 57% of all our subscribers, a jump from 52% in 1998!
- Our newsletter is published in Spanish (57% of our readership) and English (43%).
- Fifteen percent of our readers describe themselves as academics; 31% are affiliated to the health sector and 7% to civil defense organizations.
What has not changed, however, is why and for whom this newsletter is published. The Disasters newsletter has attempted to showcase the initiatives and steps taken by countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (and beyond) to prepare for and respond to the health consequences of disasters. From the earliest issues, it has promoted a horizontal exchange of knowledge and ideas among disaster professionals by citing contact information for each news piece (a much quicker task today, thanks to e-mail, than in 1979!)
Speaking of e-mail distribution lists, you can join the almost 6,500 people, or 25% of our subscriber database, who have sent us their e-mail address and now receive news items between issues of the newsletter. Your e-mail address will remain private, your mailbox will not be overloaded and you can opt at any time to unsubscribe. Send your e–mail address to disaster-newsletter@ paho.org .