In response to requests from the Ministers of Health from Latin America and the Caribbean, PAHO/WHO established a Regional Disaster Response Team to assist countries that are dealing with emergencies or disasters. The Team is responsible for carrying out a rapid assessment of needs, assisting in coordinating emergency response, and advising PAHO/WHO and its partners. The Team assists in the health sector’s response to an emergency, paving the way for installation of the “health cluster,” as prescribed by the United Nations Humanitarian Reform.

This manual describes deployment of the Disaster Response Team, its objectives, and responsibilities at different stages of an emergency. It explains the process of mobilizing resources and provides practical information for work in the field. The manual includes evaluation forms and checklists for health services, shelter, water and sanitation, epidemiologic surveillance, damage assessment and needs analysis, and mental health, among others. These forms are important for collecting and analyzing the information needed for providing the most appropriate types of humanitarian assistance.

The information in this manual will be of help to those advising PAHO/WHO offices and health sector agencies and institutions when they respond to emergencies or disasters. To view or download the document in PDF format, visit