|Disasters Preparedness and Mitigation - Issue No. 51 - July, 1992 (PAHO)|
Hospital Disaster Preparedness Project Set in OECS Countries
The Ministry of Cooperation and Development of France and PAHO have signed an agreement on a four-year project to primarily assist six OECS member countries to respond collectively to emergencies. The main thrust of the Project, which is slated to begin in August, will be hospital disaster preparedness. Despite many efforts, hospital structures and health service in the smaller islands have been particularly hard hit. This project will provide technical and scientific support to hospitals for periodic review of their disaster medical response plans, including coordination between emergency medical services and hospitals, and other key agencies in disaster situations. Simulation exercises will be organized annually to maintain heightened preparedness. In order to reduce hospital vulnerability prevention and mitigation measures-both structural and non-structural - will be taken prior to hurricane season. French Overseas Departments will also provide technical cooperation, at the request of the countries, in training medical and nursing staff in the simple treatment of emergency injuries and other areas of emergency medical services, thus promoting the medical aspects of the collective Caribbean disaster response mechanism. Dr. Jean-Louis Bordonado will head the Project, which will be based at the OECS headquarters in Saint Lucia. Dr. Bordonado is a physician with substantial experience in emergency medical services, having served with SAMU in Paris, and in similar positions in developing countries. After August, Dr. Bordonado may be contacted at the following address: Hospital Disaster Preparedness Project, c/o Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, P.O. Box 179, Castries, St. Lucia.
Since approval of funding by the Government of the Netherlands for SUMA, PAHO's supply management project in the aftermath of disasters, preliminary work has included a lobbying and promotional effort, the preparation of support materials, and the selection of volunteers in the region. Following is a description of how the Project is progressing:
· a high-level PAHO official has visited more than 20 countries in the region. These governments, whose collaboration will ensure the success of this Project, have demonstrated great interest and a willingness to participate in SUMA.
· the software for the SUMA project was initially designed exclusively to classify and inventory health supplies. However, both donor agencies and Latin American and Caribbean countries pointed to the rationale of extending the scope of SUMA to all relief supplies. With the assistance of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance of USAID, a meeting was arranged with the designers of another excellent classification software, DALIS. DALIS (Disaster Assistance Logistic Information System, version 3.0) was developed by the U.S. Government for use in "Operation Comfort" in Iraq (1991). This meeting allowed PAHO to benefit from the valuable experience gained by DALIS and to study the incorporation of certain key features into a revised software for SUMA, which is, as yet, unnamed.
· the first round of training sessions for SUMA team members will begin at the end of July. Initially, 20 volunteers from 14 countries each in Latin America will participate in a basic one-day training session in a warehouse setting, much like what they will encounter in an actual post-disaster situation. The size of the Caribbean islands will require a different approach. Training will be coordinated together with the newly established Caribbean Disaster Response Agency (CDERA) which has a mandate for collective disaster response in the Caribbean. Later, more specialized training will be offered to selected volunteers.
· self-adhesive, color labels have been designed to distinguish the urgent from non-urgent supplies, to denote any special handling required.
Training of the SUMA Teams should be completed by mid 1993, at which time the Project will be ready for deployment. For a more detailed description of the SUMA Project, write to the Editor of this Newsletter.