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close this bookDisasters Preparedness and Mitigation - Issue No. 31 - July, 1987 (Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) / Organización Panamericana de la Salud (OPS), 1987, 8 p.)
View the documentCaribbean coordinators meet
View the documentTaking a place in the international community
View the documentNews from PAHO/WHO
View the documentOther organizations
View the documentMember countries
View the documentReview of publications
View the documentUpcoming meetings
View the documentSelected bibliography

Member countries

Brazil: CETESB Offers Course on Environmental Accidents

The Brazilian Company of Technology in Environmental Health (CETESB) will offer a one-week course from 30 November to 4 December in São Paulo to familiarize participants with the specific problems arising from environmental accidents. The alarming rate of both industrial and demographic growth in many urban areas of the Region makes it essential to discuss the consequences of this type of problem, and how they can be prevented or controled. For further information on participating in this course contact Eng. Antonio Carlos Regain, CETESB, Ave Prof. Federico Hermann Jr. No. 345, Alto de Pinheiros, CEP 05459, São Paulo, Brasil.

Colombia: Emergency Health Management Workshops Expanded

Colombia's workshops and seminars on medical attention to disaster victims have traditionally included formal presentations on the health effects of disasters, epidemiological surveillance, mass casualty management, international assistance and hospital disaster plans, as well as round table discussions on the roles and responsibilities of the different sectors and ways to improve interinstitutional coordination. Participants have represented not only the health sector but also the police, fire department, Red Cross, and Civil Defense. Beginning this year, simulated emergency situations are being held in the field to evaluate the effectiveness of the seminars. Participants assume the same roles for which they have responsibility in their everyday lives. For a detailed description of this workshop plan write Dr. Juan Pablo Sarmiento, Coordinador del Plan Nacional de Preparativos para Desastres, Menagerie de Salud, Calle 16, Número 7-39, Bogotá, D.E., Colombia.

Costa Rica: Disaster Course on Surgery

The National Emergency Commission ACNE organized a national course on traumas occurring from disasters from 3-5 June in San José, Costa Rica, to keep medical personnel up-to-date on the management of disaster situations, particularly mass casualty management. Some 150 participants, both generalists, specialists and those dealing with emergency medicine discussed the epidemiological aspects of disasters, risk factors, data gathering, and hospital disaster preparedness. For further information contact Dr. Manuel Obando Vanessa, Coordinador Sector Salud, Comisión Nacional de Emergencies, San José, Costa Rica.

Ecuador: Decree Regulates Disaster Goods and Services

Realizing the need to regulate goods, cash donations and services which are intended to alleviate the problems that arise from natural or manmade disasters, the Controller General has issued a special decree No. 0048. This decree outlines the administrative responsibility for handling funds and resources, disbursement of payments in legally declared disaster situations and specifically addresses the issue of international assistance. For further information or a copy of the decree write Dr. José Arroyo, Jefe, División Nacional de Desastres, Menagerie de Salud, Veintimilla 325 y 12 de octubre, Edifices El Girón, Quito, Ecuador.

Haiti: Government Disaster Office Updated

Several modifications have been made to the structure of the Predisaster and Relief Office (OPDES) under the Ministry of the Interior and National Defense, to make it more operational and functional in the event of a disaster. These changes include forming committees throughout all regions of the country and, at the request of the Minister of Public Health and Population, appointing a physician to serve as liaison between OPDES and the Ministry to coordinate all health activities. For further information write Colonel Williams Regard, Minister of Interior and National Defense, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Honduras: COPES Published Disaster Booklet

The Permanent National Emergency Council (COPEN) has published a useful booklet with information on prevention and safety measures for floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. Written and illustrated in easy-tounderstand terms, the booklet provides instructions on what to do prior to, during, and after these -emergencies. Citizens are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these measures prior to disasters. Could serve as an example to countries who want to produce similar public information material. Write to Consejo Permanents de Emergencia Nacional, Cuartel General de las Fuerzas Armadas, Frente Parque "El Soldado", Comayagüela, D.C., Honduras.

Mexico: Seminar on Technological Disasters

The Direction of Preventive Medicine of the Mexican Ministry of Health, in conjunction with PAHO's Center for Human Ecology in Metepec, Mexico, held a three-day conference from 27-29 May to analyze and discuss the health problems that originate from technological disasters relating to chemical agents and ecological problems. Participants also discussed preventive measures to mitigate the negative health consequences of this type of disaster and the means of organizing health services to be able to deal with mass casualty management. Finally, public health institutions were encouraged to promote the teaching of disaster preparedness for technological disasters as part of their continuing activities. For further information on the proceedings of this seminar contact Pan American Center for Human Ecology and Healthcare, Apartado Postal 249, Toluca, Estonia de México, México.


Natural disaster have always posed a threat to major urban areas. But larges cities are also becoming increasingly vulnerable to technological hazards. (Photo: Julio Vizcarra/PAHO)

Disasters in an Age of Urban Growth

The explosive rate of population growth in Latin America, coupled with the massive shift from rural areas to major cities, is creating serious problems throughout the Region. Mexico City, already the largest in the Western Hemisphere with 18 million inhabitants, is projected to double its population by the year 2000. Other large urban areas-Lima, Peru; São Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina-also are increasingly vulnerable to natural hazards as well as technological disasters, including chemical accidents.

To increase the state of preparedness of Member Countries who are most at risk of the consequences of disasters in large urban areas, PAHO is organizing a meeting to bring together emergency managers and municipal level planners who are charged with preparing for all types of disasters. Rather than concentrating on formal presentations, participants will be encouraged to meet in small groups to discuss these threats with counterparts from developed countries and arrive at successful prevention strategies which can be shared at the Regional level. It is hoped that this type of meeting will lay the groundwork for a permanent exchange of information, ideas and strategies among disaster managers and planners. More information in future issues of this Newsletter.