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PAHO’s focus on health sector disaster plan

luigimarshall, [email protected]

PAHO’s focus on health sector disaster plan

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WITH the hurricane season under way in the Caribbean, the need for health care providers to be prepared to deal with any disaster or eventuality has come into focus.
At the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Health Cluster Coordinators Workshop on Wednesday at the Amaryllis Beach Hotel, Minister of Health Donville Inniss said that the year 2010 was especially difficult for the Caribbean, with natural disasters resulting in millions of dollars in damage and significant loss of life.
He therefore called for the countries to be prepared for any eventuality. 
The minister further called for the sharing of experiences and knowledge of disaster cases, as well as the networking of personnel with the relevant expertise for effective disaster management.
The World Health Organization health cluster is made up of more than 30 international humanitarian health organizations that have been working together over the past four years to build partnerships and mutual understanding and to develop common approaches to humanitarian health actions.
The cluster mechanism, which is promoted by the United Nations to improve the international response to disasters, has been constantly improving and is regarded by PAHO as a tool of great potential to attract resources and bring visibility to the health sectors of the participating countries.
The three-day workshop hopes to ensure that there is a team of health cluster coordinators in the region adequately trained to work with international partners during a humanitarian crisis to reduce avoidable mortality, morbidity and disability and to restore the delivery of, and equitable access to, preventative and curative health care as quickly as possible.
Inniss said his ministry was cognizant of the need for systems in the case of a disaster and had ensured that a detailed health sector disaster plan had been formulated to minimize health risk.
“Given the history of natural disasters and the influence of climate in natural disasters, the Cabinet of Barbados has recently agreed to the establishment of a climate change unit within the ministry,” he said. (LK)