|Disasters Preparedness and Mitigation - Issue No. 16 - July, 1983 (PAHO)|
Argentina: Flood workshop
The Health Ministry of Argentina plans to hold a disaster preparedness workshop with an emphasis on floods, tentatively scheduled for September, 1983. Additional information can be obtained from Dr. A. Mondejar, Advisor of the Sanitary Emergencies Department of the Ministry of Public Health and Environment, Defensa 192, Buenos Aires 1065, Argentina.
Brazil: Water purification in flooded areas
Engineers from the State Sanitation Technology Company of Brazil, Antonio Carlos Rossim and Silvio José Buso, forwarded to our offices a study prepared by them titled "Practical Solutions for Water Purification." Written in Portuguese, the paper documents simple techniques found useful during Brazilian experiences with water supply purification during floods. Concise and clearly presented, with diagrams and simple formulas for rapid purification in emergencies, this field manual will be a useful reference for developing similar guides in other countries. For copies, write the authors at: Companhia de Tecnología de Saneamiento Ambiental, Av. Professor Frederico Hermann Jr. 345, LEP-05459, São Paulo, Brazil.
Colombia: Popayán earthquake study
The Coordinator of the National Emergency Plan in the Health Ministry, Dr. Hernán Alzate, will conduct a study, with PAHO support, to determine the relationship between the types of injuries victims sustained during the April I earthquake in Popayán and housing and other factors. The results of this study will be used by national authorities to improve planning for future disasters.
Colombia: Amateur Radio Conference
The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has organized a meeting for countries from the Americas in Cali from June 6-11. One of the topics of the meeting is to discuss the collaboration between PAHO/WHO and ham radio operators with the idea that in the event that a massive disaster should occur in any country of the Americas, communication could be maintained between the PAHO country representative, the Central Office, and the corresponding subregional advisor. Guaranteeing open communication channels is seen as a vital part of maintaining effective international health relief coordination in which PAHO/WHO play a major role.
Dominica: Typhoid fever after hurricane David
Dr. William Green, Chief Medical Officer of Dominica, has prepared a 4 page summary of a study on the incidence of typhoid fever after hurricane David swept across that country in 1979. Green found that reported cases of typhoid fever, which is endemic in Dominica, dropped in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane only to rise to a peak level in 1981. He concludes that relaxed sanitary precautions by food handlers were at fault. Copies of this interesting document can be obtained by writing Dr. W. Green, Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, Dominica, West Indies.
Dominican Republic: Preparedness Course
The Ministry of Health of the Dominican Republic will sponsor a national course in disaster preparedness for regional health directors and central level ministry personnel. Scheduled for the week of 18 July, the course will cover mass casualty management, epidemiologic surveillance, relief supplies, and other disaster management topics relevant to the health sector.
Ecuador: Workshop held
Two workshops were held on emergency preparedness during the second quarter of 1983. The first workshop, organized by the nurses of the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute was held from May 30 to June 1. The topic of discussion was the role of Institute nurses in disasters and emergencies. The Ministry of Public Health organized a workshop from June 6-10 for hospital directors from the Guayaquil Region. The focus of the workshop was on mass casualty management and hospital planning. This is the second workshop of this nature held in Ecuador.
Guatemala: Health ministry creates disaster unit
The health ministry of Guatemala recently created a disaster unit (UNDE). UNDE will be responsible for the development of disaster management plans, the organization and training of personnel who will be responsible for relief management in the health sector and, in the event of emergencies caused by natural disasters, the coordination of the activities of the various agencies and institutions making up the health sector.
Peru: Health effects of floods
Torrential rains in the north of Peru began in December 1982, and continued into May, 1983. Preliminary statistical and epidemiologic data indicate an increase of respiratory, gastrointestinal and dermatological illnesses. PAHO has been collaborating with the Health Ministry to evaluate the effects the flood has had on the population's health and to determine what type of assistance is most needed in the health sector. The main problem facing the Ministry of Health is one of logistics due to the considerable rain damage to highways and roads. This has affected ground communication with health centers and posts as well as the distribution of gasoline and other basic necessities.