Health facilities are among the quake's casualties, complicating relief efforts
WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) is mobilizing health experts to assess the impact of yesterday's earthquake on the health situation in Haiti and working with other United Nations agencies, international partners, and local authorities to mobilize and coordinate relief and recovery efforts focused on the quake's survivors.
In addition to causing unknown deaths and injuries, the 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed or severely damaged at least eight health facilities, including at least four hospitals (see PAHO Situation Report). Compensating for the lost health services will be a key part of the relief response, noted Dr. Jon Andrus, PAHO's Deputy Director, in a press briefing today.
Andrus noted that other immediate health priorities include:
PAHO/WHO's Country Office in Port-au-Prince was partially damaged by the quake, forcing its staff to work out of temporary facilities. In addition to its in-country staff, the organization is mobilizing its Regional Disaster Response Team, which is expected to arrive in Haiti tomorrow.
Andrus noted that Haiti, as the poorest country in the hemisphere and having suffered through four major hurricanes or storms during 2008, is especially vulnerable to the impact of natural disasters. However, he said lessons learned from disasters throughout the Americas and the world should be used to improve the relief and recovery response.
Among the lessons he cited were:
"The additional cost of building hospitals to be disaster-safe is marginal," said Dr. Andrus, "and so is the cost of retrofitting existing facilities. Most important, these costs are negligible in comparison with the cost of a failed hospital. Donor countries and organizations should keep this mind for Haiti's longer term recovery."
PAHO was established in 1902 and is the world's oldest public health organization. It works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of the people of the Americas and serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).
For more information please contact: Donna Eberwine-Villagran, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. 202 974 3122.
PAHO Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief (http://new.paho.org/disasters/?lang=en)
SOURCE Pan American Health Organization
|SOURCE Pan American Health Organization|
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