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PAHO adopts emergency measures in battle against virus


CMC

PAHO adopts emergency measures in battle against virus

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Washington – The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) says it has undertaken extensive emergency steps in the Americas, including the Caribbean, in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

PAHO said that it is continuing and accelerating work to support countries throughout the Americas in dealing with the serious health and social effects of the pandemic.

It has outlined details of the rapid mobilisation and technical support at the core of its extensive emergency response since January, noting that COVID-19 has now spread to all 54 countries and territories in the Americas, with an estimated five million cases and more than 244 000 deaths reported to date.

“The epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted to the Region of the Americas,” PAHO said in a new report, adding that the United States and Brazil combined account for 75 per cent of all cases and 74 per cent of all deaths currently reported in the region.

The 77-page report analyses the epidemiological situation both by regions, including North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, and nationally, giving specifics on PAHO’s response in each country.

PAHO said its regional and country incident management system teams have been providing direct emergency response to Ministries of Health and other national authorities in vital public health areas since the first alert.

It said specific teams provide support that focuses on coordination in countries, risk communication and community engagement, surveillance and rapid response, points of entry, laboratory capacity, infection prevention and control, clinical management, logistics, maintaining essential health services, and research and development.

In emergency operations, where PAHO has more than 40 years of experience, the report states that the organization quickly mobilized experts and equipment to respond to COVID-19 and helped procure Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), sending 54 shipments to 26 countries.

The report said “these vital supplies” for health workers included 1.3 million gloves, one million surgical and N95 masks, 403 000 gowns and 42 000 goggles for the countries.

As of June 30, 2020, the report disclosed that PAHO has received a total of US$66.6 million in donor contributions and firm pledges and that looking ahead “the fight against the spread of this virus will prove challenging, as countries face an uncertain economic outlook due to global and domestic problems stemming from the effects of months-long lockdown.”

The report warned that underfunded health systems not adequately equipped to respond to malaria, measles, yellow fever and other diseases compound that challenge and that PAHO’s country office teams are working directly alongside government counterparts to develop and refine national plans of action that go beyond the health sector due to the severity of the pandemic.

“All 35 member-states activated intersectoral mechanisms in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, involving the highest political leadership, and including key sectors to provide a comprehensive response.

“PAHO liaised with other UN agencies within countries to lead the health sector response and ensure that the UN system followed a holistic approach to tackling this pandemic and its repercussions.” (CMC)

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