PAHO assisting crisis in Haiti

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is working to help relieve the humanitarian crisis in Haiti, co-ordinating the provision of medical supplies to hospitals in affected areas and strengthening support for the health system, according to PAHO officials.The Organisation, which has an office in Haiti, has sent additional experts to work with health system and non-government organisation care providers, and has set up an emergency operations centre in Port-au-Prince. A crisis committee has been created, training of health care providers has been organised in collaboration with the Red Cross, and supplies of medicine and equipment have been transported to Cap Haitien, PAHO officials said.

At an Inter-American Response meeting on Haiti, held at PAHO’s emergency operations center in Washington yesterday, PAHO officials briefed representatives from France, the European Union, Bahamas, Haiti, Canada, the Organisation of American States, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, and the World Bank on the situation and actions taken.

PAHO has undertaken as assessment of needs in the main public and private hospitals, and its Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Co-ordination experts are supporting the country in humanitarian crisis management. A project for epidemiological surveillance has been funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, along with the European Union’s humanitarian aid office. PROMESS, the central pharmacy which has been supplying essential drugs for Haiti since 1992, is being strengthened and PAHO is working closely with the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, CARE, and other organisations to assure continuing supplies of medicaments.

Dr. Jean Luc Poncelet, head of PAHO’s Program on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief, said, “There is a need for strong humanitarian support to be implemented in respect of the existing structure. We have to provide assistance that specifically helps those in need without jeopardising a number of small and fragile developing structures that are trying to emerge. Assistance provided through PAHO will be provided via the working structure. We hope to preserve the functioning structure and advocate for other health related entities to join forces.”