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Summary of the Situation

The heavy rains associated to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Stan have diminished for the most part, and water levels are coming down in rivers and affected areas. This has allowed the international assistance to reach areas isolated by the landslides. Although many displaced people have returned to their homes, there are still many in shelters, especially in El Salvador where people had to be evacuated suddenly because of the eruption of the Ilamatepec volcano. The countries are preparing needs assessments to use the funds donated by the international community. To date there are no reports of outbreaks of communicable diseases, although the conditions are ripe due to presence of contaminated water, so the situation is being carefully monitored.


Situation in the Countries

SUMA Operations in the Countries (in Spanish)

Transitioning from emergency to recovery

As the emergency response phase gradually transitions into recovery and rehabilitation and as emergency lifesaving activities slowly wind down, other areas of public health emerge as important concerns:

Safe Hospitals: an important opportunity is at hand to rebuild these critical facilities, incorporating disaster mitigation measures to reduce their vulnerability to the avoidable consequences of disasters. Read more.

Mental Health: Given the many pressing public health concerns in the aftermath of disasters, mental health care for disaster victims can be overlooked early on. Read more about mental health services and stress management.

International Aid: The arrival of aid from outside an affected area can pose a serious challenge, particularly if it has not been requested, is inappropriate for the situation or diverts personnel from other more pressing tasks. Read more about this issue.

Food Safety: another serious public health problem in the aftermath of disasters. Consult the guidelines produced by WHO and FAO on this topic and learn about links to other WHO publications that help reduce the threat to public health of inadequate food safety measures.

Health Effects of Disasters

Natural Disasters: Protecting the Public's Health PAHO’s flagship publication on managing the health effects of disasters, it has been translated into several languages.
Management of Dead Bodies A PAHO/WHO manual that calls attention to this disaster management issue and encourages authorities to make it part of disaster plans and a key component of humanitarian assistance.
Management of dead bodies after natural disasters The draft version of a new PAHO/WHO/ICRC field operations manual for first responders.
  Humans Remain Identification Information Form.
  Missing Persons Data Form (these forms, still in draft form, will comprise part of the field manual.)
Humanitarian Supply Management and Logistics in the Health Sector Guidelines on basic aspects of the logistics of humanitarian supply management at each level of the logistics "chain." Some procedures are based on standards adopted by international organizations and others are the product of experience gained in the field.
Disaster Mitigation in Health Facilities--Wind Effects Focuses on reducing the vulnerability of structural elements in hospitals and health facilities and non-structural elements (windows, shelving, etc.) and those special functions such as communication networks.
Environmental Health in Emergencies and Disasters This volume distills what is known about environmental health during an emergency or disaster. The volume is intended for practitioners, as well as for policy makers and researchers, and thus covers both general and technical aspects of environmental health.

Disaster Management Tools

Useful Links

PAHO's Technical Guidelines for Disaster Situations
Humanitarian Assistance: Guide for Effective Aid
Media Relations in Emergencies
Myths and Realities of Natural Disasters

For additional information on natural disasters, please visit the Publications Catalog of the Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Area of the Pan American Health Organization.