Member States of MERCOSUR, the Southern Common Market, met to discuss advances made in risk reduction and disaster response, in line with strategic guidelines agreed upon at the first meeting of the inter-governmental commission of risk management and vulnerability reduction. Highlights of the countries’presentations:
Argentina: presented its contingency response plan for an influenza pandemic and the new regional information network and database of common risks and vulnerabilities—natural, technological, and biological.
Brazil: briefed participants on several human resources capacity building initiatives, including the PAHO LEADERS course, which Brazil has adapted into Portuguese for a national audience and the course on Hazardous Substances developed and carried out by CETESB, a national environmental agency, and risk management and vulnerability reduction initiatives within the framework of MERCOSUR.
Chile: presented the “Andean Strategic Plan for Health Sector Emergency Preparedness and Response,” as a reference for similar strategic plans in MERCOSUR and member states. The plan emphasized the need for regional disaster response teams, with tools to assess damage and needs in the health sector and manage disaster information to make humanitarian assistance more effective.
Uruguay: created a national legal framework for risk management and vulnerability reduction.
Paraguay: presented the conclusions from several lessons learned workshops on the Ycua Bolaños supermarket fire. In addition to reviewing health sector lessons learned, a second workshop explored the response by a variety of sectors to the disaster and the third workshop with participants from Chile, Argentina and Peru to look at coordination among institutions, humanitarian assistance, mass casualty management, mental health and disaster communications.