During October 2009, PAHO/WHO convened two regional workshops in Barbados to train professionals that can be part of regional and national emergency response teams in the health sector, in the area of health logistics and communication and information management.
The Regional Emergency Response Team (RRT), composed of experts with varied backgrounds in public health and disasters was created more than two decades ago, in response to a request from PAHO/WHO member states. Among its objectives are cooperating with national authorities in carrying out rapid damage and needs assessments in the health sector, in order to coordinate the response of international agencies, and advising the health sector on immediate interventions.
Twenty five persons from seven Caribbean countries, British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Belize, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago, participated in the communication and information management training. Among the many activities was a hurricane simulation exercise, designed to bring to light the political and technical challenges that unfold in the aftermath of many large-scale emergencies, many of which can be resolved with well-developed communications and information management strategies. Participants also reviewed and made recommendations to improve guidelines on communication and information management in emergency situations. The final guidelines may be downloaded here as a PDF file.
The health logistics course, included lectures and practical exercises to enhance participants’ capacity, to amongst other things, provide support for the management of humanitarian supplies and health equipment. Some hands-on sessions included use of LSS/SUMA software, the humanitarian supply management system, and communication systems such as satellite communication. Eighteen country representatives from Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, and Grenada, participated in the course.