Summary of the Situation

altStan affected El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico with winds that varied from hurricane-strength to tropical storm. The death toll was 65 in El Salvador, more than 600 in Guatemala, 8 in Mexico and 11 in Nicaragua. The heavy rains caused widespread flooding and landslides. More than 100,000 people were displaced by the storm in all four countries, which also damaged infrastructure and several health facilities. In El Salvador, the situation was compounded by the reactivation of the llamatepec Volcano.

More photos of the tragedy

Situation in the Countries

SUMA Operations in the Countries (in Spanish)

Transitioning from emergency to recovery

As the emergency response phase gradually transitions into recovery and rehabilitation and as emergency lifesaving activities slowly wind down, other areas of public health emerge as important concerns:

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Safe Hospitals: an important opportunity is at hand to rebuild these critical facilities, incorporating disaster mitigation measures to reduce their vulnerability to the avoidable consequences of disasters. Read more.

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Mental Health: Given the many pressing public health concerns in the aftermath of disasters, mental health care for disaster victims can be overlooked early on. Read more about mental health services and stress management.

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International Aid: The arrival of aid from outside an affected area can pose a serious challenge, particularly if it has not been requested, is inappropriate for the situation or diverts personnel from other more pressing tasks. Read more about this issue.

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document Food Safety : another serious public health problem in the aftermath of disasters. document Consult the guidelines produced by WHO and FAO on this topic and learn about links to other WHO publications that help reduce the threat to public health of inadequate food safety measures.

Health Effects of Disasters

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Natural Disasters: Protecting the Public's Health PAHO's flagship publication on managing the health effects of disasters, it has been translated into several languages.

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Management of Dead Bodies A PAHO/WHO manual that calls attention to this disaster management issue and encourages authorities to make it part of disaster plans and a key component of humanitarian assistance.

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Humanitarian Supply Management and Logistics in the Health Sector These guidelines on basic aspects of the logistics of humanitarian supply management describe proper handling of supplies at each level of the logistics "chain." Some procedures are based on standards adopted by international organizations and others are the product of experience gained in the field.

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Disaster Mitigation in Health Facilities--Wind Effects Focuses on reducing the vulnerability of structural elements in hospitals and health facilities and non-structural elements (windows, shelving, etc.) and those special functions such as communication networks.

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pdf Environmental Health in Emergencies and Disasters This volume distills what is known about environmental health during an emergency or disaster. It draws on results from the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, and on experience with sustainable development between the two Earth Summits, in Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg. The volume is intended for practitioners, as well as for policy makers and researchers, and thus covers both general and technical aspects of environmental health.

Disaster Management Tools