|Disasters Preparedness and Mitigation - Issue No. 40 - October, 1989 (PAHO)|
Reference Material Available through PAHO
A list of Emergency Contacts in Latin America and the Caribbean with names, addresses, and phone and fax numbers of both national disaster coordinators and their health sector counterparts is available from PAHO. Also available is a List of Disasters that occurred in this region between January and December 1988. It gives the type of disaster, the country and area affected, and the number of deaths, injuries and affected population. Readers may also request copies of two United Nations publications: International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction: Report to the Secretary General, which was prepared in response to the General Assembly resolutions naming the 1990s as the IDNDR; and Implementing the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, prepared for the Secretary-General by the International ad hoc Group of Experts (English only.) To obtain a copies of any of these documents, write to the Editor of this Newsletter.
New Chief in ERO
The World Health Organization has recently restructured its office dealing with disaster preparedness and response. The Organization has named Dr. H. A. Hamad-EI Neil as the director of Emergency Relief Operations. Dr. Hamad-EI Neil may be contacted at World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, CH- 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland
A country's communications network rarely withstands the force of a natural disaster. However, after Hurricane Hugo, INMARSAT made it a little easier for some Caribbean nations to keep in touch with the outside world. (Photo: Carlos Gaggero/PAHO)
Almost without exception, the impact of a major disaster disrupts vital lines of communication. This hampers a rapid assessment of needs and requests for assistance by the disaster-stricken country.
To assist Member Countries in this region to establish lines of communication with the outside world, PAHO purchased a portable satellite communications terminal, TCS-9000. It was fully christened in the aftermath of Hurricane Gilbert last September. This September, it allowed the health and national authorities in Montserrat to communicate by phone, fax and telex with other Caribbean islands and with the international community.
INMARSAT, the International Maritime Satellite Organization, based in London, provides the communications link from the TCS9000 at the disaster site to the ground station, via its Atlantic satellite. The earth coast station that relays the communication to the commercial network is operated by COMSAT, the U.S. signatory to INMARSAT.
One of the drawbacks to PAHO's making full use of this equipment on behalf of its Member Countries in times of disaster is the compound cost of satellite time (INMARSAT) and earth station time (COMSAT).
Now, some of that burden has been lifted. PAHO would like to take
the opportunity to thank INMARSAT for generously accepting to absorb the
cost of satellite use during the immediate post-disaster emergency period after
Hurricane Hugo. This public-spirited cooperation permitted PAHO to commit
additional resources to the immediate relief of other pressing health