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PAHO Comes To Aid of BVI To Help It Remove Solid Waste After Destruction of Hurricane Irma

ROAD TOWN, Tortola — The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is providing additional support to the recovery of the BVI’s Health Sector through funding from a number of donors.

Minister for Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton said that he is grateful for the additional support which came as a result of further discussions with PAHO’s officials. He has also expressed his deep appreciation to the organisation on behalf of the Government of the British Virgin Islands.

“I am pleased to announce that PAHO has committed to providing a garbage truck for the Solid Waste Department worth over $200,000 to support our debris management program and to undertake repairs to the Rosalind Penn Clinic in Long Look,” Skelton said. “Essential equipment and supplies are also being procured for the elderly homes on both islands and support will be given to securing building material for clinics throughout the territory.”

PAHO was one of the first teams on the ground following the impact of Hurricane Irma. The five-member team integrated within the National Emergency Operations Center and supported the initial needs assessment of the health sector. This team was followed by a number of specialists who supported the emergency medical response activities.

A pledge of $1 million dollars was made to the Ministry of Health and Social Development to assist in the relief and immediate recovery needs. Commitments were made to providing medical supplies to clinics and the Peebles Hospital, to undertake emergency repairs to the elderly homes on Tortola and Virgin Gorda and to support the Environmental Health Unit.

The repair works and the procurement of the equipment and supplies is expected to be completed by the end of March at which time PAHO will undertake a review of the various interventions and will assess the level of progress being made.

Meanwhile, Regional Advisor and head of the PAHO Public Health Emergencies Programme based in Barbados, Dr. Dana van Alphen said she met with Minister of Health and Social Development in October 2017 and discussed the recovery plan for the Health Sector and the commitments that PAHO will make.

“We had an extremely productive meeting which focused on the progress being made by the health sector and the assistance that was needed to advance the immediate recovery efforts,” Dr. van Alphen said. “We have reached out to a number of donor partners including Department for International Development (DFID) European Commission Humanitarian Aid office, Global Affairs Canada and they have provided the funding required by the Ministry of Health and Social Development.”

PAHO established the new Health Emergencies Program in September of 2016 which reports directly to the organization’s director.

“Currently in the BVI, we have Dr. Echeveria of Colombia, an experienced psychiatrist, who is working directly with the BVI Health Services Authority to review the psychosocial programmes in place and to provide support to the mental health teams in the territory,” Dr. van Alphen added.

The program aims to deliver rapid, predictable and comprehensive support to member states in terms of prevention, risk reduction, preparedness, surveillance, response and early recovery in case of any threat to human health, including outbreaks or disasters caused by natural phenomenon, human activities or conflicts.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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