Bahamas, September 1, 2011 (PAHO/WHO)- The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and The Bahamas and Turk and Caicos health authorities are launching an appeal for international assistance to help 220,000 people, that were affected by Hurricane Irene last week.
The goal of this appeal is to reduce the public health impact of Hurricane Irene on the affected population of these islands.
Around 15 of 69 health facilities in the Bahamas have reported damage, some of them severe. To date, communications could not be restored with at least 10 facilities. According to the health authorities, the disruption in primary health care due to the loss of communication and the suspension of activities is a factor that needs to be recovered and reinforced, especially in vulnerable communities.
In both Turk and Caicos and Bahamas, there are a significant number of vulnerable communities, predominantly Haitian nationals, that have poor housing infrastructure, no toilet facilities, no running water and crowded living conditions. It has been estimated that there are around 100,000 Haitians nationals in the Bahamas islands.
In addition, Hurricane Irene stuck in the midst of an already raging dengue epidemic. The capacity to conduct disease surveillance and outbreak management was already overstretched due to a lack of human resources and vector control activities such as fogging are limited as proper equipment and experts are needed.
The appeal aims to mobilize $400,000 to address all these challenges. The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation has already release $ 80,000 to help The Bahamas.
Although the Bahamas has a high GDP, inequities affect mostly the immigrant populations, as well as the elderly and people of low socio-economic status, who have been the more affected by Hurricane Irene.