|Disasters Preparedness and Mitigation - Issue No. 51 - July, 1992 (PAHO)|
Caribbean: Health Disaster Coordinators Meet; Simulation Exercise Takes Place
Caribbean health sector Disaster Coordinators met in June at their annual meeting, which was held simultaneously with the 1992 Tradewinds Exercise in Barbados. Based on a review of last year's recommendations, the Health Disaster Coordinators updated the state of disaster reduction in their countries. They agreed on the importance of hospital administrators, public works and funding agencies working together if health facilities are to withstand the impact of disasters, and they recognized the need for further training in mass casualty management. Several Caribbean and international agencies attended selected sessions of the Health Coordinators Meeting, which permitted both sides to better understand the roles and responsibilities of all in disaster response activities. Members of PAHO's Disaster Response Team (see page 1) also attended the meeting and participated in the Tradewinds Exercise. The six-day disaster relief phase of the exercise included a simulation exercise held 13-14 June, in which national and international disaster relief and response agencies participated. This allowed the PAHO team to review procedures for assessing health sector needs and to coordinate with the Health Disaster Coordinators prior to a disaster. For more information contact Dr. Jean Luc Poncelet, Emergency Preparedness Adviser, PAHO, P.O. Box 508, Bridgetown, Barbados.
Andean Region: Health Disaster Coordinators Meet
National Health Disaster Coordinators from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela met in Caracas in May to review the past year's activities, to prepare technical recommendations, and to formulate a resolution to present to the annual meeting of Ministers of Health of the Andean Region (REMSAA). Among other areas, the resolution specifically calls for maintaining disaster preparedness and response as a priority area, and promoting the operational capacity of the National IDNDR Committees. For a report of the meeting write Dr. Luis Jorge Perez, OPS, Asesor Subregional de Desastres, Casilla 21 17, Lima 100, Peru.
Costa Rica: Hospital Course
Continuing with their Hospital Preparedness Program, the Health Advisory Committee (CATS) of Costa Rica's National Emergency Commission held a two-day course in Nicoya, which according to scientists, has a high seismic risk. A drill held after the course offered important conclusions about mass casualty management. For information write Dr. Mario Saenz, Comisión Nacional de Emergencia, Apartado 5258-1000, San Jose, Costa Rica.
Caribbean Countries Meet on Natural Disaster Reduction
More than 150 participants from 22 Caribbean countries, departments and territories, from regional Caribbean agencies, and from international organizations, bilateral donor countries, non-governmental organizations and the private sector met in Kingston, Jamaica from 26-29 May at a Caribbean IDNDR Meeting on Natural Disaster Reduction. The purpose of the meeting was to increase awareness among decision makers and planners about disaster vulnerability and to formulate guidelines and recommendations for national IDNDR Committees and other entities. Working groups made recommendations on national, regional and international level priorities for achievement during the IDNDR; specified functions that should be undertaken by national IDNDR Committees; and began considering activities for 1993 World Disaster Reduction Day (the theme will be Disaster Mitigation in Hospitals and Schools). Work groups also met by sectors and made recommendations on their sector's role in disaster reduction activities. This meeting was made possible thanks to financial support from: the United Nations Development Program and the Governments of Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Sir George Alleyne (right), Assistant Director of PAHO and the Hon. Easton Douglas at the Inauguration of the IDNDR meeting in Kingston.
Readers in the Caribbean may request a copy of the final report
from Dr. Jean Luc Poncelet, Emergency Preparedness Adviser, PAHO, P.O. Box 508,
Bridgetown, Barbados. Readers in other regions write to the Editor.
El Salvador: Disaster Program for Schools
High-level officials from the Ministry of Education in El Salvador have approved a disaster education program to stimulate schools to organize and carry out local emergency plans and train teachers to use available information to face disasters. The Ministry of Education has created a department for this purpose to work with other organizations such as the Ministry of Health, the Red Cross, the Fire Department, the Italian Cooperation, PRODERE and PAHO. For more information write Prof. Lisandro Colato, Programa de Desastres, Ministerio de Educación, San Salvador, El Salvador.
Mexico: Gas Explosion Prompts new Disaster Report
A series of gas explosiones occurred in underground sewers in Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico, on 22 April, leaving 250 dead, 1470 injured, and destroying more than 1124 homes, 450 businesses and 600 vehicles. An estimated 5200 persons were left homeless. Search and rescue teams from Guadalajara and from Mexico City were sufficient to meet needs, making, international unnecessary. The health sector responded well during the first critical hours, coordinating the use of ambulances and distributing patients among area hospitals. As a result of this technological disaster, PAHO has commissioned the preparation of a disaster report which documents experiences during the emergency response and presents lessons learned from this disaster. More information on the report will appear in a future issue of this Newsletter.
Upcoming Meetings: The Hospital Juarez, the Secretary of Health, and the Mexican Society of Disaster and Emergency Medicine will hold the 4th Annual Disaster Preparedness Meeting in Mexico City from 6-9 October. For information and an agenda write Dr. Carlos Rojas Enriquez, Hospital Juarez del Centro, Apartado Postal 28292, C.P. 06090 Mexico, D.F, Mexico, telephone (52-5) 542-3729. The Mexican Society of Emergency Medicine will also sponsor the III International Congress on Emergency Medicine in Mexico City from 28 September-2 October. Information is available from the Society at Cozumel 47, Of. 302, C.P. 06700 Mexico, D.F., Mexico, telephone: (52-5) 553-8990.
Colombia: Red Cross Signs Agreement on SUMA
The Colombian Red Cross and PAHO have signed a collaborative agreement for implementation of the SUMA Project. Whereas PAHO will maintain technical, administrative and financial responsibility for the Project, the Red Cross will encourage national societies in Latin America to participate in activities related to SUMA, designating a focal point to develop areas of cooperation. The Colombian Red Cross was instrumental in creating a preliminary version of the software used in SUMA.
El Salvador: Medical Attention to FMLN
Within the framework of the Peace Accords signed by the Government of El Salvador and the Frente Farabundo Martí pare la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), PAHO/WHO is providing emergency medical care for the former combatants and maintaining minimum health services in the 18 health centers that serve the demobilization areas. The emergency phase, which was slated to last 30 days and was delayed for an extended 60 days, called for the military forces to receive medical and dental exams. Originally, the plan was designed to handle approximately 8,600 persons, but because of the delays, the number of people grew. This extended time period caused many families to gather at disarmament sites, causing a greater demand for medical care. It is interesting to note that the health Plan had underestimated the effects of accumulated dental pathologies that were revealed through the medical exam. exam. Routine dental care, which is not widely kept up in normal times, is certainly next to impossible to receive during prolonged periods of guerilla activity. Medecins sans Frontiers is responsible for the component of the Plan dealing with basic infrastructure; World Food Program for nutrition; and UNESCO for education.