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Critical Health Response Ongoing due to Hurricanes Maria and Irma in the Caribbean

Washington, D.C., September 19, 2017 (PAHO/WHO)— Countries in the Caribbean continue implementing critical health response actions with support from the Pan American Health Organization, which is deploying Regional Response Teams and shipping medical and humanitarian supplies to islands affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Heavy rain and wind continue to hit the Leeward Islands, including those already affected by Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Dominica Monday night as a Category 5 hurricane with 155-mph winds, causing heavy devastation. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in a social media post that “The winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with. My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured” on Dominica.

Priority needs include urgent repair and operational recovery of damaged health facilities in order to resume critical health services in the aftermath of the two category 5 hurricanes that impacted the Caribbean in less than 2 weeks. These services are badly needed particularly to manage emergency patients, to allow for quick diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases, and to reestablish treatment of chronic and non-communicable diseases, said Ciro Ugarte, Director of the Health Emergency Department.

Hurricane Maria “could greatly impact already battered structures and debris, complicate humanitarian aid delivery, and displace more people to shelters. A quick delivery of needed supplies and human resources as well as prepositioning and preparation for the coming storm will be important to avoid further public health impact in the countries and territories located in the path of this powerful hurricane,” Ugarte said.

The deployment of Regional Response Teams to the islands includes health disaster coordinators, sanitary and health facilities engineers and epidemiologists, as well as experts in public health, information management, logistics, vector control, and damage and needs assessment.

Maintaining sanitary conditions, especially in shelters, continues to be a priority. Increases in mosquitoes and rodents have been reported in heavily impacted islands. Vector control and cleaning supplies needs list has been requested from affected islands.

Intensified epidemiological surveillance to support early detection and timely management of disease outbreaks is crucial due to lack of access to clean water, healthcare and treatment, and increase in vectors, Ugarte said. Some shelters are already reporting diarrheal and skin diseases.

Healthcare professionals are being deployed from different islands to support the needed surge in human resources. Strengthening capacity in addressing mental health in impacted populations, especially those in shelters, is important, he added.

Logistics needs include restoration of the vaccine cold chain and increased space and safety for storage of medicines and health supplies. Security issues remain a challenge in the islands in order to distribute basic supplies and deploy personnel. A quick delivery of needed supplies and human resources is important due to Hurricane Maria and other potential storms developing in the Atlantic, Ugarte added.

Requested supplies are being provided by PAHO HQ and country offices in Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago. As the needed medical and humanitarian supplies are identified by countries and shared with PAHO, they are being prepositioned in Panama and Barbados for rapid distribution in response to Hurricane Maria.

PAHO continues to assess needs of impacted countries and territories and deploy funds, supplies and human resources as needs are identified by impacted islands. As new information emerges from the field, new possible deployments may be considered by health authorities, especially after the passage of Hurricane Maria. A second round of deployments is being organized.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is coordinating emergency projects to cover medical supplies, reestablish health services, and purchase of essential medicines and medical equipment. The United Nations (UN) is developing a joint UN Response Strategy that lays out the priorities of international humanitarian agencies (UN and NGOs and IFRC), working closely with national Governments and regional counterparts including the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, CDEMA.

Source:  PAHO Emergencies www.paho.org/emergencies
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PAHO Director to visit Guyana for new country cooperation strategy

Georgetown, Guyana, 5 February 2017 (PAHO/WHO) — The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, plans to visit Guyana from Feb. 5 to 8 to meet with high-level government officials and sign a new strategy for technical cooperation in health.

Her visit will include working meetings and courtesy visits with Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamooto, First Lady Sandra Granger and Minister of Public Health, Hon. Dr. Volda Lawrence and her staff. 

Dr. Etienne will be accompanied during her visit by PAHO Chief of Staff Dr. Merle Lewis and PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana Dr. William Adu-Krow.

A top subject for discussion will be the reconstitution and relaunch of Guyana’s National Non-communicable Diseases Commission, which PAHO/WHO considers especially important since noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for 70% of deaths in Guyana. Other subjects that are expected to be discussed include universal health coverage and health financing, tobacco control legislation, health systems strengthening, human resources in health, and the health of women, adolescents, and older adults.

During her visit, Dr. Etienne is also scheduled to meet with Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Carl Greenidge, Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, and Deputy Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) Dr. Douglas Slater, among others. Her agenda also includes a visit to a health center.

The country cooperation strategy (CCSs) that is expected to be signed is a mutually agreed instrument to guide PAHO’s work in the country. PAHO CCSs, which are developed with each PAHO Member State, are aligned with country priorities and also with the work plans of the World Health Organization (WHO), PAHO, the United Nations and other collaboration platforms, which facilitates an intersectoral approach to priority health problems. The agreements also incorporate core PAHO principles such as the right to health, equity, solidarity and diversity. 

Guyana is one of eight “key countries” where PAHO places greater emphasis on its technical cooperation to ensure that equity gaps are closed.  

About Dr. Etienne

 

official photo of PAHO DirectorDr. Carissa F. Etienne, a native of Dominica, was elected Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on September 2012. From March 2008 until 1 November 2012, Dr. Etienne served as Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Services at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that, as Assistant Director of PAHO from July 2003 to February 2008, she led five technical areas: Health Systems and Services; Technology, Health Care and Research; Health Surveillance and Disease Management; Family and Community Health; and Sustainable Development and Environmental Health.

During her tenures at WHO and PAHO, Dr. Etienne led the efforts to renew primary health care and to strengthen health systems based on primary health care, promoting integration and improved functioning of health systems. She has also spearheaded policy directions for reducing health inequalities and advancing health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership.

 

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PAHO Director to visit Guyana for new country cooperation strategy

Georgetown, Guyana, 5 February 2017 (PAHO/WHO) — The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, plans to visit Guyana from Feb. 5 to 8 to meet with high-level government officials and sign a new strategy for technical cooperation in health.

Her visit will include working meetings and courtesy visits with Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamooto, First Lady Sandra Granger and Minister of Public Health, Hon. Dr. Volda Lawrence and her staff. 

Dr. Etienne will be accompanied during her visit by PAHO Chief of Staff Dr. Merle Lewis and PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana Dr. William Adu-Krow.

A top subject for discussion will be the reconstitution and relaunch of Guyana’s National Non-communicable Diseases Commission, which PAHO/WHO considers especially important since noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for 70% of deaths in Guyana. Other subjects that are expected to be discussed include universal health coverage and health financing, tobacco control legislation, health systems strengthening, human resources in health, and the health of women, adolescents, and older adults.

During her visit, Dr. Etienne is also scheduled to meet with Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Carl Greenidge, Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, and Deputy Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) Dr. Douglas Slater, among others. Her agenda also includes a visit to a health center.

The country cooperation strategy (CCSs) that is expected to be signed is a mutually agreed instrument to guide PAHO’s work in the country. PAHO CCSs, which are developed with each PAHO Member State, are aligned with country priorities and also with the work plans of the World Health Organization (WHO), PAHO, the United Nations and other collaboration platforms, which facilitates an intersectoral approach to priority health problems. The agreements also incorporate core PAHO principles such as the right to health, equity, solidarity and diversity. 

Guyana is one of eight “key countries” where PAHO places greater emphasis on its technical cooperation to ensure that equity gaps are closed.  

About Dr. Etienne

 

official photo of PAHO DirectorDr. Carissa F. Etienne, a native of Dominica, was elected Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on September 2012. From March 2008 until 1 November 2012, Dr. Etienne served as Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Services at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that, as Assistant Director of PAHO from July 2003 to February 2008, she led five technical areas: Health Systems and Services; Technology, Health Care and Research; Health Surveillance and Disease Management; Family and Community Health; and Sustainable Development and Environmental Health.

During her tenures at WHO and PAHO, Dr. Etienne led the efforts to renew primary health care and to strengthen health systems based on primary health care, promoting integration and improved functioning of health systems. She has also spearheaded policy directions for reducing health inequalities and advancing health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership.

 

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