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The strong aftershocks that rocked the Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins region in Chile led the government to declare state of emergency in that part of the country. But the areas affected by the February 27 earthquake are returning to normal, with roads open and access to all the affected populations. Telephone and electricity service has also been almost fully restored, except in a few rural areas where communication problems persist.

The health services network has been severely affected in many regions. Countrywide some 4,000 hospital beds have been lost. The Ministry of Health has managed to restore health care services and for the time being, the demand is being met. Regional health services report that after the first few days of the emergency, the demand for services has fallen to figures even lower than normal. However, demand is expected to increase, especially in services for chronic patients. Also, primary level health facilities will have to be reopened.

Ten field hospitals are up and running in Talca, Curicó, Chillán, Constitución, Curanilahue, Hualpén, Rancagua, Angol and San Carlos (4 of these hospital were sent by Argentina, Brazil Peru and Cuba). An outpatient module from the Red Cross is operating in Hualañé to provide primary health care.

The Ministry of Health launched a communication campaign, reinforcing public health information about water consumption, food and environmental sanitation. No disease outbreaks have occurred, and epidemiological surveillance has been strengthened, especially in shelters and camps. Latrines have been installed; waste is being collected with the municipalities, and sanitary landfills that can receive the rubble from destroyed buildings are being evaluated.

The National Committee on Mental Health in Emergencies and Disasters, made up of staff members from public health and aid networks, is now operational, and a strategy for the affected areas has been prepared.

The Health Ministry's Central Supply Warehouse has dispatched some 400 tons of fortified milk, formula for premature babies, drugs, and medical supplies to the affected area. The Warehouse has been in charge of shipping the vaccines needed for hepatitis A vaccination, anti-rH gamma globulin, dialysis supplies, antivenin for spider bites, etc. PAHO has coordinated the procurement of hepatitis A vaccine through donations from private enterprises or governments. Over 200,000 doses will be arriving in Chile in the coming days. 600,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine have been purchased through PAHO's Revolving Fund for vaccines and have already arrived in the country.

PAHO/WHO has presented an emergency project to the U.N.'s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced US $2 million will be available to Chile through the CERF for health needs

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Last Updated on Thursday, 18 March 2010 02:44

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