Nassau, Bahamas, Sept. 13, 2019 — Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, met with health authorities here today and offered PAHO’s full support in the relief and response operations related to Hurricane Dorian.
Her visit included meetings with Dr. The Hon. Duane E.L Sands, Minister of Health of the Bahamas, who said, “Since my time as minister I have enjoyed the mentorship, guidelines and support of PAHO’s director and we truly appreciate all the support.”
Dr. Etienne said “I am here today to express my solidarity to the Ministry of Health, the government and also to the people of the Bahamas.”
She noted the organization’s history of some 40 years working in emergencies and said “Our work is with the Ministry coordinating response and recovery, part of our program is preparedness as well. We believe we must build resilient health systems that are able to provide care for the people and keep working in an emergency.”
The health minister said PAHO will help the Bahamas in building local and national capacity to deal with surveillance, ensuring the quality of water and that It is safe to drink.
He noted the first phase of an emergency typically has traumatic events such as fractures, drowning, lacerations and amputations. The second phase, Mr. Sands said, is typified by infections and you have to keep up surveillance to see if there is an increase in infections and you have to be able to respond to it.
Mosquitoes and rodents that carry vector borne diseases must be monitored and responded to, the health minister added. “Rats carry diseases like leptospirosis and we sometimes see an increase in cases of leptospirosis after an event such like this, so you have to be able to identify and reach those patients with the appropriate treatment. “
The Minister advised people only to drink bottled water or treated water for the moment.
Dr. Etienne noted that PAHO mobilized its Disaster Response Team that pre-deployed water and sanitation experts and health services experts to Bahamas even before Hurricane Dorian struck, and has specialists in logistics, disease surveillance, coordination, information (data) management, and civil-military cooperation in place in the Bahamas, working closely with health authorities and other organizations.
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