Continuation of 1.3.

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c. Preparation of reports

Reports should be periodic and should reflect changes and new conditions in the emergency situation.

The frequency with which reports are prepared will depend on how the situation unfolds, although at the beginning, they should be issued at a minimum every 48 hours. Situation reports (SITREPs) should contain up-to-date and accurate information on the following areas:

Health SITREPs

Basic questions answered by a PAHO/WHO SITREP


What is the condition of the area affected by the disaster?


Who is the affected population?


Are there sectors, groups, or communities that have been particularly affected or that are vulnerable?


What is the impact on health?


How does it affect sanitation conditions and health services?


What are the main needs?


What needs have been covered?


What is NOT needed?


What is the health sector doing and what will be the immediate actions?


What does PAHO do and what is is immediate plan of action?


What is the State's capacity to responde to the disaster or emergency?


Has the State requested external assistance?

The DOs and DON'Ts of SITREPs






✓Make the complex simple


✓Overload the text or make it fancy


✓Be brief and concise


✓Overuse adjectives and adverbs


✓Use clear, direct language


✓Use the passive voice; stick to the active


✓Analyze situations and trends


✓Make vague statements


✓Indicete your information sources


✓Assume the reader is familiar with the country affected or with the disaster situation


✓Include maps and images


✓Repeat information from one report to the others unless it needs to be updated


✓Explain your tables and charts


✓Include information that is unreliable


✓Credit your authors




✓Include the date and hour of publication


✓Include PAHO/WHO logo and name


✓Explain acronyms and abbreviations

Types of health SITREPs





Preliminary reports are produced from the initial impact to the 48-hour point. There may not be a lot of information available, so these reports will be brief and summary in nature. They should do the best possible job at explaining the situation generated by the disaster’s impact, and should anticipate the direction of response in the health area.









Daily reports for internal distribution are produced for PAHO/WHO or the ministry of health.









Supplementary reports to the preliminary reports provide greater coverage and detail on the changing situation and on interventions by technical health areas in the various sectors affected.









Daily reports are produced for distribution to other entities such as the national disaster system, United Nations, NGOs, and the communications media.









In both of these cases, the basic information is included, but it is adapted according to the intended recipient’s information needs.






d. Emerging technologies and information management

The advent of new applications on the Internet—primarily the growing popularity of social networks--has made it easier to collaborate and exchange information quickly in disaster situations. These massive communities of users with shared relationships or mutual interests have become very active in recent disasters. During the earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Japan, many people were able to get news of family members and friends thanks to massive exchange of information through these networks. Access to valuable tools like Google Earth and Google Maps (use these links) lets health professionals develop personalized tools to identify places such as shelters, health facilities, areas of impact and interventions, etc.), with the additional advantage that these programs can be used in conjunction with other platforms such as YouTube and Picasa. View this Powerpoint presentation on social media in emergency situations. Learn more about the topic in the article Social Media and Disasters: Current Uses, Future Options, and Policy Considerations. Consider the opportunities and challenges that social media presents in an article about lessons learned in using social media in disaster relief.

Another technology that contributes significantly to information management is GPS (the global positioning system), which uses the global satellite navigation system that makes it possible to determine the location of an object, person, building, or particular area within a few meters. This technology can be extremely useful, since it makes it possible to georeference almost any location of interest, such as place of impact or intervention, services, shelters, and supply points, as well as an enormous quantity of reference items that are useful in monitoring and controlling operations.