|Disasters Preparedness and Mitigation - Issue No. 18 - January, 1984 (PAHO)|
Brazil: Disaster preparedness curriculum
The Faculty of Public Health of the University of São Paulo is scheduling the inclusion of disaster preparedness in its curriculum. Tentatively scheduled for mid-year, the course would concentrate on health effects and management of foods and drought. As a first step, faculty members will take part in a workshop on the subject with local personnel who have had disaster experience. For further information, write: Dr. Ruy Laurenti, Av. Dr. Arnaldo 715-01255, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
Colombia: SENA reconstruction program in Popayan
The national training service of Colombia (SENA) undertook a housing reconstruction program after the March 1983 earthquake destroyed or damaged 72% of the houses in Popayan. The SENA program is part of a self-help reconstruction program which organizes low-income earthquake victims into groups of 15 families and then trains them in construction techniques to increase seismic resistance. After several courses, model house repair demonstrations were made for brick and adobe houses for urban and rural settings. The techniques employed may be of great interest to other earthquake prone countries with similar local materials and housing construction. Illustrated booklets were prepared for the project in collaboration with INTERTECT, a LIS-based group of architects specializing in disaster mitigation. For further information on the SENA project, write: Dr. Gustavo Wilches-Chaux, SENA, Apartado 623, Popayán, Colombia.
Haiti: Disaster Organization created
The Government of Haiti recently enacted a law creating the Pre-disaster and Relief Organization (OPDES), an "autonomous public organization (...) under the Department of Public Health and Population. OPDES is responsible for the "coordination and harmonization of the activities of the public and private sectors and nongovernmental and external cooperation agencies in order to be prepared for natural and other disasters, to plan and organize relief efforts in case of any disaster causing death and injury within the population or the complete or partial destruction of public services and private properties, and causing damage to basic infrastructures and therefore requiring urgent measures for the protection and safety of the victims and the rehabilitation of those infrastructures." As part of preparing for disasters, the law envisions carrying out inventories of resources, developing plans for all sectors under a National Plan, and suggesting administrative measures to strengthen prevention measures. Copies of the law enacting OPDES may be obtained (in French or English) by writing: Department of Public Health and Population, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Honduras: National health plan for disasters
Honduran delegates to the meeting of health ministers of Central America and Panama presented the National Health Plan for Disasters recently approved in that country. The Plan is written as a working document for easy reference in emergencies. After briefly describing the history of disasters that have affected Honduras, the Plan lays out the health sector's organization, lines of authority and functions by level, guidelines for the alert, emergency and rehabilitation phases, and preliminary assessment of needs. For further information, write Ministry of Health, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Jamaica: Trainers' workshop
Curriculum coordinators from the schools and programs of public health of Jamaica will hold a meeting from February 2 to 5 to prepare a final standardized curriculum for teaching disaster preparedness to health professionals. The meeting was scheduled in October at which time the same people gathered to develop a core content area, review materials prepared for the purpose by PAHO, and discuss the roles of various health disciplines in disaster preparedness and relief efforts. The University of the West Indies School of Social and Preventive Medicine, among others, has already begun a teaching program in this area.
Mexico: Preparing for chemical emergencies
The Pan American Center for Human Ecology and Health (ECO) is finalizing a vulnerability profile of the American Region regarding health risks posed by chemical emergencies. The profile is based on a breakdown of major industries, employment patterns and transport and storage of chemicals. When completed, the study and reports of several country experiences will serve as the basis for discussion in a meeting of selected Latin American and Caribbean nations to be held at ECO (see Upcoming Meetings). The WHO Global Program on Chemical Safety will cooperate closely in the organization of the meeting. These activities are aimed at the development of long-term planning for prevention and mitigation of public health emergencies following chemical accidents.
Mexico: Relief activities carried out by the Social Security Institute after the eruption of the Chichonal volcano
The General Medical Division of the Mexican Social Security Institute has prepared a report on the "system of integrated health care for the population affected by the Chichonal volcano," 1982. The volcano, located on the border of the states of Chiapas and Tabasco, caused serious damage to surrounding settlements and the displacement of the population to nearby cities. The document, prepared by Dr. Felipe Cruz Vega, describes the results of a survey aimed at determining the health conditions of the population and the relief measures that were taken by the Institute. For space reasons, the report cannot be published in this issue of the newsletter, However, interested readers may obtain a summary from the Editor (see Selected Bibliography). The full report may be obtained by writing: Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Avenida Cuautemoc 330, Edificio A, Subdirección General Médica 6° Piso, México. D.F., México.
Nicaragua: Disaster preparedness in health
The National University of Nicaragua has included the subject of public health in the event of disasters in its curriculum for training health professionals. Topics covered in 40 hours of class time and field practice include types and effects of disasters, medical care and organization of health services, community participation, epidemiologic surveillance and control and environmental health in the event of natural disasters and warfare. National and international case studies are used. For further information, write: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios de la Salud (CIES), Ministerio de Salud, Managua, Nicaragua.
Panama: Disaster action plan
SINAPROC, the Panamanian National System for Civil Defense in Emergencies, was created by law in November 1982. Since then it has carried out several important activities to make civil protection during disasters a reality. In the health sector, it has made a national inventory of potable water sources and developed an outline for a Plan of Action for national and state hospital emergency management. The inventory of health sector resources and installed capacity is considered a promising step toward the future enactment of a national health plan for disasters.
Peru: Post flood surveillance
The health ministry of Peru will strengthen its epidemiologic surveillance system in the northern states of the country, which suffered repeated floods during the earlier part of 1983. The floods caused a dramatic deterioration of environmental conditions, making it necessary to declare a state of emergency and take measures to stop the accelerating increase in disease transmission already detected. High on the list of priorities are malaria, gastroenteritis and respiratory ailments, especially among children. For further information, write: Dr. Sotelo Baselli, Director General de Intercambios Internacionales, Ministerio de Salud, Lima, Perú.
India: Disaster Management quarterly
The Joint Assistance Center, a voluntary group set up in New Delhi, following the Andra Pradesh Cyclone of 1977, has issued a request for contributions to its quarterly, Disaster Management. Now entering its second year, it covers all aspects of disaster preparedness, prevention and relief management of national and international concern. For subscriptions and further information on publications, workshops and other activities, write: Narendra Kumar Jain, JAC, H-65, South Extension-1, New Delhi 110049, India.
Caribbean Project Programs its Activities
The Management Committee of the Pan-Caribbean Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Project held its fifth biannual meeting in Antigua from November 15 to 18, 1983 to review recent project activities and program its work for 1984. The Committee is composed of one representative each of the funding and executing agencies: The CARICOM Secretariat, UNDRO, the Canadian International Development Agency, USAID/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, European Economic Community, League of Red Cross Societies, British Development Department and PAHO/WHO. The participating countries represented were the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guyana, and Belize. Present as observers were Antigua, Dominica, the International Telecommunications Union and project staff.
The Committee reviewed activities in the areas of preparedness and prevention, health and first aid, communications and public awareness carried out in many of the countries served by the Project.
It was agreed that, in the future, the Project should concentrate more on support for in-country activities now that the Caribbean has been sensitized as a region to disaster preparedness by workshops and seminars. It was also decided to inform all participating countries well in advance of the various program activities, to give them time to decide whether they would like to take part. It was further recommended that the health component of the project concentrate on in-country training activities with a long lasting effect.
Another important issue which was discussed during the meeting is the development of inter-regional contacts and exchange of information. In this respect a forthcoming meeting of the Pacific Islands in Fiji was mentioned. Participation of Caribbean officials is anticipated.
The next meeting is tentatively scheduled to be held in the
Dominican Republic during the first half of April, 1984, immediately following a
meeting of all national disaster coordinators from the wider Caribbean region.