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PAHO makes Emergency Appeal for $300,000 after floods in Dominican Republic, Haiti

Washington, DC, May 28, 2004 (PAHO)—The Pan American Health Organization launched an emergency health appeal seeking $300,000 to support immediate health sector needs after the catastrophic floods that hit the Dominican Republic and Haiti, causing nearly 2,000 deaths and leaving more than 12,000 persons homeless.

"Public health programs in the affected regions have been interrupted and there is a great demand for post-emergency interventions, especially because of damage to the water system and the sanitary infrastructure. The preexisting vulnerability of the population to dengue, malaria and other vector-borne diseases make the need for assistance even more urgent," said the PAHO appeal.

According to reports from PAHO's office in Santo Domingo, "In Jimaní, the municipality most affected to date, the Melenciano General Hospital was flooded, equipment was damaged and there was a substantial loss of medical supplies. Patients had to be transferred to La Fortaleza." The municipality has no telephone service, drinking water or electricity.

PAHO experts said potential public health risks from a disaster of this type include changes in disease patterns, population displacement, deterioration in drinking water and basic sanitation systems and health infrastructure.

"Currently, the most pressing tasks involve strengthening the capacity of the provincial health authorities and health centers to deal with potential disease outbreaks common to this type of disaster and implementing health promotion, information, education and communication initiatives directed at the population in temporary shelters and those living in affected areas in order to reduce health risks," said PAHO's appeal.

PAHO is sending additional staff to the affected areas, and convened a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force, with the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Inter-American Defense Board, and other agencies, to brief the agencies on the most pressing health sector needs in the Dominican Republic, and PAHO actions and health situation in Haiti.

PAHO's Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Coordination top staff are in Trinidad at a meeting, but the emergency appeal calls for improving health service networks, strengthening epidemiological surveillance to detect any disease outbreaks, maintaining health programs and education campaigns, coordinating risk management and response systems, providing basic psychological care to the affected population, and controlling the quality of water to prevent disease.

The Pan American Health Organization, founded in 1902, works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. It also serves as the regional office of the World Health Organization.

For more information, video material, or photographs please contact: Daniel Epstein, Office of Public Information, (202) 974-3459, e-mail: epsteind@paho.org.


Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
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