News Americas, Nassau, Bahamas, Weds. Sept. 11, 2019: The Pan American Health Organization, (PAHO) is
requesting an initial US $3.5 million from donors to cover short-term health
care and other needs for the population in the Bahamas affected by Hurricane
The devastating category 5 storm made landfall exactly one week ago in
northwest Bahamas, and severely affected the health sector, with significant
destruction of equipment and medical supplies and electrical and water supplies
in Abaco and Grand Bahama. Some 73,000 persons were affected by the storm, and
there are hundreds of people in shelters in the disaster zone. While 43 deaths
have been officially reported thus far, mass casualty numbers are expected to
rise significantly as more areas become accessible and search and rescue
Dr. Ciro Ugarte, PAHO’s Director of Health Emergencies, said, “Our
priority concerns are to restore access to essential health services and
continued medical care delivery, to ensure water quality in affected communities
and health facilities, and to restore proper hygiene and sanitation.” He said
adequate waste management and control of disease-causing vectors such as
mosquitoes is key, along with increasing epidemiological surveillance to
support early detection and timely management of disease outbreaks.
The $3.5 million being requested by PAHO is a preliminary estimate to
cover short- term healthcare, water and sanitation, epidemiological
surveillance and vector-control needs in the Bahamian Islands most affected by
Hurricane Dorian for the next six months, Dr. Ugarte said, adding that needs
will likely increase as damage assessments are completed.
PAHO/WHO activated its emergency teams for surge capacity and had
pre-deployed Rapid Response Team experts to the Bahamas before Hurricane Dorian
struck to support health authorities and humanitarian response as needs were
identified. So far, 14 PAHO experts are in the disaster zone to provide surge
capacity in logistics, civil and military coordination, information management,
epidemiological surveillance, communications, and coordination.
Dr. Ugarte said PAHO is acting quickly to support the Bahamas Ministry
of Health in the response, setting up an Incident Management system and
co-leading the health cluster with the national health authorities to
coordinate health and humanitarian support to the affected population.
The funding requests includes $1.3 million to restore healthcare
delivery in affected areas, $500,000 for surveillance to detect and manage
disease outbreaks, $800,000 for safe access to water, emergency sanitation and
control of disease vectors, and well as $671,000 to coordinate humanitarian
assistance and manage information to address the most urgent humanitarian
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