Hurricane Felix, with maximum windspeeds of 260 km. per hour, struck Nicaragua's northeast coast on 4 September 2007, before continuing on a destruction path to Honduras.
In Nicaragua, the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) was the most affected by Felix, and on September 5 the country's President declared a State of Disaster for the RAAN. Approximately 37,448 people have been affected in the RAAN, especially Miskito Indians in rural areas. There have been 22 confirmed deaths, but the number is expected to increase during the next few days as the search for victims continues. National experts and specialized agencies are evaluating the situation at the local level. The most urgent needs include the strengthening of disease surveillance, quality and control of water supply, recovery of affected health facilities and services and the delivery of health services. In Honduras, there have been no reports of deaths; however, many areas have been affected by the heavy rains. Most of the people that had been evacuated to shelters are returning to their homes. Water levels are being monitored due to the risk of rivers overflowing.
PAHO Tools for Disasters
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 These guidelines on basic aspects of the logistics of humanitarian supply management describe proper handling of supplies 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. It draws on results from the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, and on experience with sustainable development between the two Earth Summits, in Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg. 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.|