In Saint Lucia, Hurricane Tomas caused 8 deaths, major damage to key health facilities, water supply systems, as well as property and agricultural crops. Electricity has been re-established and some water supply function has now been restored but many areas are still without piped water. Two suspected leptospirosis cases are currently under investigation; however according to the Ministry of Health dengue and diarrheal disease cases have not increased. Water quality, food safety and limited surveillance capacity remain problematic. Health centers are experiencing difficulties with access, staff exhaustion and water storage. PAHO is supporting the deployment of a nurse midwife from Grenada who arrived in Saint Lucia on December 1st, 2010, to assist in Soufriere, where patients cannot be referred to a hospital. A project manager has been deployed for two weeks beginning on December 1st, and an environmental health advisor returned from Saint Lucia on the same day following a weeklong trip to support the distribution of supplies, provide training and assess current needs.

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Originating southeast of the Windward Islands on October 29th, 2010 Tomas rapidly developed into a Category-1 hurricane bringing excessive rainfall and harsh winds to parts of the eastern Caribbean. Although a number of countries issued tropical storm and/or hurricane warnings (including Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Martinique, Barbados, Dominica), the brunt of damage thus far, has been concentrated in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia.  St. Vincent and the Grenadines has seen damage to approximately 1200 homes (14 destroyed), disruptions to power supplies, and devastation to their agricultural sector. There were no casualties reported and conditions appear to be stabilizing.  However conditions in Saint Lucia, where rainfall measured >500 mm (21") in 24 hrs, require urgent attention.   

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MCM Participants AnguillaA five-day Mass Casualty Management (MCM) workshop, funded by the Pan American Health Organisation, during the period 11 - 16 October, has been a main focus in Anguilla at Masara Resort, Katouche, with a number of participants drawn from key departments in the public sector in attendance.  

Mr. Lynrod Brooks, who chaired the opening ceremony, noted that emergencies and crises, stemming from various disasters, had become more frequent in recent times, especially in middle and low income countries. He observed that this had led to disruption of healthcare programmes and essential services and slowing the process of sustainable human development. He concluded that many lives could have been saved if affected communities were better prepared with response systems already in place. He stated that the overall concept of the mass casualty management workshop was to train the participants to be involved in a community response to a large-scale disaster.

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The Health Sector Self Assessment Tool for Disaster Risk Reduction is a rapid and low-cost method for assessing the state of disaster risk reduction in the health sector. As an internal tool for use by the health sector, it will aid in determining priorities for a national health sector risk reduction or disaster management program and, if used regularly, as a monitoring tool for measuring changes (or lack thereof) over time. The Tool was developed with the knowledge of professionals from health and disaster management fields.

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Vector Control Workshop - BarbadosThe Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Barbados and the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) have collaborated in organizing the pdf Emergency Vector Control Workshop Agenda , during the period of 13 - 15 October 2010, at the Grand Barbados Beach Resort.

Thirty-six participants from 19 Caribbean countries, including eight from Barbados, are attending this workshop with the aim of improving vector control in the context of emergencies throughout the Caribbean, with a special focus on the current dengue epidemic season. The workshop will enhance the capacity of participating vector control managers to assess, plan, implement and evaluate local vector control programs according to a comprehensive management approach. 

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