2.2. Projects to address the most important needs

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2 2 1 necesidades2.2.1. Medical care needs

Once the acute emergency phase has passed, the continued treatment and rehabilitation of patients remains a key priority. This requires full access to health services. However, a return to pre-disaster levels of medical care at health facilities is often seriously hampered as health facilities find their operational capacity affected by the impact of the disaster on infrastructure and essential services.

The rehabilitation of health care facilities is a priority in the post-emergency phase, but often runs into problems because of limited availability of funds. Fortunately, however, Jamaica’s Bellevue Hospital in Jamaica was able to secure funding to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Dean. The Ministry of Health and PAHO/WHO implemented a project to address the following priority areas (including the mental health facility)


  • Structural rehabilitation of health care facilities, including primary care facilities.
  • Basic equipment for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Restoration of the normal operation of water, power, laundry, and communications services.
  • Drugs and essential supplies.


2.2.2. Disease surveillance needs.

In many emergencies, particularly when an earthquake or flood occurs, a good deal of laboratory equipment is destroyed or rendered unusable. Damage to laboratories has a serious impact on epidemiological and environmental surveillance, since they depend on basic tests to diagnose diseases or monitor bacteriological water pollution, among other things. The priorities for rehabilitation assistance include:


  • Restoration of basic operations in public health laboratories.
  • Inputs for preventing and controlling diseases that have the potential to become epidemics.

 Read more about the importance of laboratories in disaster situations.

2.2.3 Assistance to the population in temporary shelters:

To the extent possible, efforts are needed enable the population that has been located in temporary settlements to return to normal activities as soon as possible. However, there are often problems and limitations—particularly as regards housing.

The needs of the temporarily displaced population cover a wide gamut that runs from social welfare for orphans to assistance for the most vulnerable groups, including older people, women, and children. The demand for routine medical care increases and mental health and nutritional surveillance must not be neglected. Priorities include”


  • Ensuring that ongoing medical care is available.
  • Monitoring and adequate food supply and proper nutritional levels.
  • Continuing preventive mental health activities.

2.2.4 Environmental health

The failure to take targeted action to improve access to clean water and sanitation after an emergency can contribute to a deterioration of environmental conditions and create health hazards for the population affected by a disaster. Priorities include:


  • Monitoring and control water quality and ensuring there is sufficient sufficient supply of water. 
  • Prioritizing the repair and restoration of supply sources and primary and secondary networks, which require equipment, materials, and experts. 
  • Repairing wastewater and sewage networks in areas at greatest risk. 
  • Providing for disposal or treatment of hospital waste, in light of the potential risk of contamination to the environment.