As recovery efforts continue, PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne visited the island and met with government officials to assess health needs
Dominica, September 11 2015 (PAHO/WHO) - The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) has donated four tons of medical supplies to the Ministry of Health of Dominica to assist the government in recovery efforts following Tropical Storm Erika, which struck the island in late August.
PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne visited Dominica this week and met with government officials as well as PAHO staff working on the ground. Etienne met with Prime Minister Roosvelt Skerrit, Minister of Health Kenneth Darroux, and other authorities to assess the situation in Dominica. She visited a number of health facilities and affected communities as well as temporary medical storage sites where supplies and donations are being registered, catalogued and stored before they are distributed to health facilities in different districts. During a meeting with the emergency task force, Etienne praised Ministry of Health staff for efforts to ensure that all health facilities were up and operating as quickly as possible.
The storm, which struck Dominica on August 26, caused widespread damage, dropping nearly 13 inches of rain on the island in a 12-hour period. Landslides and flooding resulted in 13 confirmed deaths, and as of September 8, at least 360 people were staying in shelters in five communities. One health facility, Petite Savanne health center, remains closed, while 51 other facilities, including three hospitals, are operational.
On September 9, four tons of medical supplies sent by PAHO arrived in Dominica. "These are supplies that were in Haiti," said Thais Dos Santos. PAHO advisor in communicable diseases and health analysis. "We were able to transport them to the Dominica Republic, and their air force kindly offered to bring them here to assist in the response. The Government of the Netherlands offered to help us transport and distribute them in Dominica. It's a very good example of international solidarity and Pan Americanism."
The supplies were offloaded at the Windsor Park Stadium, from which they are being distributed to health facilities across the island.
At the time of the storm's landfall, PAHO had two consultants in the country working on the Smart Hospitals project. They immediately began providing technical support to the Ministry of Health in assessing the structural integrity of the country's main hospital and a number of health centers. On August 29, they were joined by more PAHO experts on disasters and environmental health who arrived via boat, as both of the island's airports remained closed due to damages. The PAHO team also brought medical supplies and water purification tablets donated by Saint Lucia and Barbados.
In coordination with the Ministry of Health, PAHO experts worked to reach the worst-hit areas via helicopter or boat to assess damages at the Grand Bay Health Centre in Petite Savanne and in other health facilities and hospitals throughout the island. PAHO is also working to ensure that people with injuries are airlifted to Dominica's main hospital, which remains fully functional, and to ensure that people with chronic diseases continue to have access to their required medications. The Organization is also supporting the ministry's environmental health team to ensure effective vector and rodent control to minimize the risk of disease.