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Canada providing funds for Caribbean health project

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Aug 30, CMC – Canada is providing a three million dollar (One Canada dollar =US$0.76 cents) to help the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reduce the health consequences of emergencies and disasters in the Caribbean.

PAHO said that the grant will aid in improving preparedness for emergencies and making the health sector more resilient to climate change.

disasterThe new funds, from Global Affairs Canada’s Caribbean Regional Programme, will support the health sector components of the Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Programme over the next four years.

“The Caribbean islands are especially vulnerable to the impact of hurricanes, floods, seismic events and other natural hazards as a result of their geography, small size, limited resources, and dense populations,” PAHO said.

“The islands are also disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly rising sea levels, coastal erosion and salt water intrusion, as well as possible intensification of severe weather events,” it said, adding that this vulnerability has “special implications for the health sector, whose facilities and staff are themselves vulnerable to disasters and emergencies while also bearing the responsibility of providing essential health services during and after emergencies.”

PAHO said most hospitals in the Caribbean score between 14 and 77 per cent on its Hospital Safety Index, indicating that patients and hospital staff are at risk during disasters and that these facilities may not be able to continue functioning fully during such events.

The new initiative will build capacity in the Caribbean health sector to manage and reduce deaths, injuries and illness following disasters through training in disaster risk reduction and management for at least 1,000 emergency workers and through the creation of a virtual emergency coordination platform for the health sector throughout the sub-region, PAHO said.

To improve the safety and environmental performance of healthcare facilities, PAHO said technical support will be provided on energy efficiency and safety improvements for healthcare facilities, including rainwater capture systems; reinforcement or replacement of roofs, windows and doors; and installation of essential emergency equipment.

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