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close this bookDisasters Preparedness and Mitigation - Issue No. 48 - October, 1991 (PAHO)
View the documentThe international system of humanitarian assistance
View the documentNews from PAHO/WHO
View the documentOther organizations
View the documentMember countries
View the documentReview of publications
View the documentSelected bibliography

Other organizations

Disaster Management Center Curriculum

As part of the continuing professional education in natural disaster and refugee emergency management, the Disaster Management Center at the University of Wisconsin is developing a curriculum using self-study modules. Some of these modules use PAHO textbooks, others-on topics such as health education and training and supplementary feeding for refugees-are in the process of final editing. The courses will be available first individually, then as part of a guided program of study leading to a diploma in disaster/emergency management. Most modules will also be available in Spanish. For a complete listing and description of the courses write Mr. Don Schramm, Disaster Management Center, University of Wisconsin, 432 N. Lake Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706 U.S.A.

CMC Guidelines on Pharmaceutical Donations

The Christian Medical Commission of the World Council of Churches has revised guidelines for both donors and recipients of pharmaceutical donations. Over the last several decades the scientific community has developed a more cautious and critical attitude toward drugs. This includes promoting a more rational use of pharmaceuticals in general, and specifically the correct use of a selected number of drugs. In this context, awareness of the problems surrounding drug donations has grown. These guidelines on pharmaceutical donations address the problems that can ensue, why this happens, and what can be done about it. They also contain practical tips for potential donors. Available in English, Spanish and French. Write Christian Medical Commission, World Council of Churches, 150, Route de Ferney, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland.

Caribbean Disaster Response Agency Operational

The Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) began operations in September and is headquartered in Barbados. Mr. Jeremy Collymore, formerly with the Pan Caribbean Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Project in Antigua, is heading the agency. CDERA was created to coordinate an intra-Caribbean response to disasters. For information on CDERA's activities write: Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Response Agency, c/o CERO, Block C, The Garrison, Bridgetown, Barbados, phone (809) 427-8513; fax: (809) 4293809.

Lessons from a Volcano

Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines had lain dormant for 600 years when on 12 June, a violent eruption sent volcanic ash and large projectiles to a height of 30 km. At the same time, giant pyroclastic avalanches descended the major valleys for 20 km., filling deeper canyons to a depth of more than 100 meters.;

An UNDRO evaluation mission travelled to the Philippines to assess damages and coordinate international relief. They also came away with some important lessons that have relevance to all regions. Among the highlights:

· this was history's largest evacuation due to a volcanic eruption, and it stretched an already overworked disaster management service to the limit and made coordination difficult.

· fortunately, there was a well-coordinated volcano monitoring service which fully understood the nature of the problem and the protective measures to be taken. They were able to issue appropriate warnings in clear language, leaving no doubt among the population or community and political leaders over the need to evacuate.

· as is often the case with volcanic eruptions, this 1991 eruption closely mimicked the last one 600 years ago. This illustrates the importance of reconstructing the pre-history of long-dormant volcanoes in readiness for describing probable scenarios at the first sign of renewed activity.

· the international community may have been hesitant to become involved early on due to the relatively low number of casualties and the inevitable delays in obtaining a reasonably full picture of the massive damages and consequent high and long-term evacuation needs.

For a complete report on Mt. Pinatubo, write Mr. John Tomblin, Office of the U.N. Disaster Relief Coordinator, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.