Central American Disaster Coordinators Meet

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Disaster Coordinators from the Ministries of Health and disaster focal points from the PAHO country offices in Central America, together with representatives from regional national emergency commissions, met in Panama to review how they have fared in implementing the overarching regional disaster reduction plan for the health sector, approved in 2003, in addition to the sub-plans that were subsequently developed on mental health and the transport of hazardous materials. The passage of these collective plans represents an achievement, but concrete results have varied from country to country due to personnel changes or insufficient local support. The mental health sector is near completion of diagnostic materials to assess mental health in disaster situations. However, less progress has been made in the area of hazardous materials. An analysis of the role of the Ministry of Health in Central America’s regional water and sanitation plan clearly revealed that the health sector should assume responsibility for ensuring water quality in the aftermath of disasters.

The participation of UN agencies, the Federation of Red Cross Societies and bilateral and regional agencies added to the realization that health concerns cannot be isolated from the actions of other sectors. Participants identified strategies for implementing the goal of Safe Hospitals, an outcome of the recent Kobe World Conference on Disaster Reduction. Proposed strategies include making an inventory of hospitals that have already conducted a vulnerability analysis and of existing disaster mitigation legislation in hospitals and developing a database of regional teams with expertise in hospital disaster planning. For more information contact Dr. Alejandro Santander: Esta dirección electrónica esta protegida contra spambots. Es necesario activar Javascript para visualizarla .

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