The earthquake that struck Haiti last week has caused massive loss of life, thousands of injuries and displaced persons, and has essentially crippled the country's already fragile infrastructure.  On the ground, communication and transportation remain incredibly difficult, if not nonexistent in most neighborhoods.  Scarcities of the bare necessities, such as food, water, and fuel are everywhere. Rubble and dead bodies clog the streets. And, we really still cannot define the extent of the damage accurately.

Guidelines for Response to Earthquakes

One of the unfortunate effects of large-scale disasters is mass casualties; often, first responders don't know what to do with the dead bodies of victims when morgues--if they are even available--fill up. PAHO/WHO has published Management of Dead Bodies after Disasters, a field manual for first responders that presents simple recommendations for non-specialists to manage the recovery, basic identification, storage and disposal of dead bodies following disasters.

PAHO/WHO Regional Emergency Response Team - Field Manual

Guidelines for activating the PAHO/WHO Health Emergency Response Team, including the Team's responsibilities during different phases of the emergency. The complete package includes forms and verification lists to aid in the gathering of information for an evaluation of needs in the health sector.

Information Management and Communication in Emergencies and Disasters

Manual for Disaster Response Teams

This manual focuses on operational aspects of disaster and emergency response as well as preparing for disasters. It addresses plans for communicating with the public during emergencies and techniques for producing, exchanging, and distributing information for humanitarian organizations. Experiences from many emergency situations show that communication is most effective when information management is linked to information exchange and social communication techniques and processes.

Be a Better Donor: Practical Recommendations for Humanitarian Aid

When disaster strikes, the arrival or large quantities of donations presents enormous organizational and managerial challenges for authorities and humanitarian actors. PAHO/WHO and other partners have published a guide on how to be a good humanitarian donor. 

The 12 January earthquake that caused widespread damage in Haiti is exacerbating an already precarious health situation. Photo story from the World Health Organization.

As more and more organizations are reaching out to Haiti to provide emergency response, effective coordination is instrumental to reach the affected population in a timely manner.  Coordination among agencies is crucial if aid is to be effective and life-saving.

Current Situation Report: English - French - Spanish - Portuguese

In a most welcomed recognition of internationally agreed upon development goals, the U.S. government has renewed its commitment to the health of women and girls around the world. The renewed commitment was expressed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in remarks commemorating the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), known as the Cairo Conference.