Paramaribo, Suriname 18 October 2023 (PAHO/WHO) - In a proactive effort to bolster its capacity to respond to health emergencies, Suriname hosted a significant two-day workshop on October 16 and 17, 2023. This collaborative undertaking involved the Health Disasters Coordination Unit of the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and aimed to address crucial aspects of health emergency preparedness and disaster risk management.
The workshop took place against the backdrop of the Americas' vulnerability to various hazards. A substantial portion of the continent's surface, approximately 36%, is exposed to floods, with 9% vulnerable to hurricanes and 5% to earthquakes. From 1960 to April 2023, the region experienced a total of 5,313 disasters. There have been 8 disasters, five hydrological, and three technological in this same period in Suriname. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of having robust emergency preparedness.
PAHO/WHO Representative Suriname Dr. Noreen Jack, who spoke during the workshop's opening remarks, pointed out, " COVID-19 is a stark reminder that proactive preparedness is not just essential but a non-negotiable investment. The pandemic has underscored the need for countries to develop resilient health systems and foster collaboration beyond the health sector."
The workshop witnessed active participation from 25 representatives representing various institutions, including the National Coordination for Crisis Response (NCCR), Bureau of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Academic Hospital, Ministry of Agriculture, Suriname Public Health Association, Ministry of Finance, District Commissioners, Ministry of Defense, and the Medical Mission. Facilitators Lealou Reballos, PAHO's Health Emergencies Advisor for the Caribbean, and Kenisha Jefferey-Isembert from the National Emergency Management Organization of Saint Lucia, guided the discussions and activities.
The collaboration with PAHO in the workshop signifies Suriname's dedication to enhancing health emergency readiness. This initiative highlights our proactive stance in ensuring the well-being of our citizens in the face of potential health crises. - Director of Health, Ministry of Health Suriname Dr. Rakesh Gajadhar Sukul
At the core of the workshop was the Strategic Toolkit for Assessing Risks (STAR). This evidence-based tool is designed to assist countries in prioritizing activities related to health emergency and disaster risk management. By utilizing STAR for risk assessment, countries can identify their most urgent health security risks and allocate resources effectively. The workshop's objectives included implementing the Preparedness Index for Health Emergencies and Disasters, conducting a strategic risk assessment, and identifying areas for enhancing Suriname's National Response Plan for Health Emergencies and Disasters.
This workshop demonstrates Suriname's dedication to safeguarding its population from health emergencies and disasters. With the knowledge gained and strategies developed, the nation is better equipped to navigate future health challenges with increased resilience and efficiency.