By Caribbean News Global contributor
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A team of experts from the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) office in Port au Prince has been deployed to evaluate damage and coordinate an appropriate health response following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook Haiti on the morning of Saturday, August 14; meanwhile His Excellency Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, of Guyana, in telephone conversations, with the prime minister of Haiti, Dr Ariel Henry, and chairman of CARICOM, Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, assured them that the government of Guyana will provide assistance to aid the relief and recovery efforts and The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is in contact with Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency which is assessing the damage.
Reports indicate significant damage to health infrastructure, particularly in the southwest of the island, including in towns such as Les Cayes. Haitian officials news conference on Sunday said the toll from the disaster had climbed to 724 as the rescue work continued.
“Our hearts go out to the people of Haiti on this truly sad day,” said PAHO director, Dr Carissa F Etienne. “Our team of experts is on the ground and stands ready to assist in all aspects of health response.”
The team from PAHO is supporting the coordination of health response alongside Haiti’s ministry of health, UN agencies, and other partners in order to assess immediate needs and ensure that support is provided quickly and efficiently. PAHO is also preparing several Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs), as well as medical supplies and other strategic equipment that can be deployed if needed. EMTs are teams of health professionals that provide direct clinical care to people affected by emergencies and disasters.
“PAHO/WHO has activated Incident Management Teams both at its Country offices in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as well at its Headquarters in Washington, DC, USA. Experts are now concerned that the situation may escalate due to the increased risk of wind and rainfall that may be brought by tropical storm Grace, which is expected to reach the Hispaniola island on Sunday, August 15,” a day after the 7.2 magnitude quake devastated Haiti.
Mexico’s president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) informed that actions will be carried out between the National Coordination of Civil Protection and the ministries of foreign affairs, Navy, and Defense to help Haiti. Likewise, the Venezuelan foreign ministry expressed the willingness of the Bolivarian government.
The Cuban medical brigade deployed since 1998 will continue to treat injured people, as Haiti’s prime minister Ariel Henry urged his people in the spirit of solidarity and commitment to “unite in the face of this dramatic situation, we are currently experiencing. Unity is strength,” he affirmed.