October 16, 2021

Caribbean: PAHO signs agreement with Development Bank to focus on mental health ahead of Hurricane Season

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From teleSUR TV

“Strengthening social and individual resilience is, and always should be, a key component of any response to disasters,” said Monica La Bennett.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) have signed an accord to improve the capacity for mental health and psychosocial support in the Caribbean as part of their overall response to disaster management.

“Despite the high vulnerability of the Region to these types of events, too often we have approached recovery and rehabilitation efforts by focusing on infrastructure and physical mitigation plans only,” said the vice-president of operations at CDB, Monica La Bennett.

“While ‘building back better’ is indeed necessary and critical, there is also a need to prepare populations to better cope with natural hazards by focusing on mental and psychosocial well-being. Strengthening social and individual resilience is, and always should be, a key component of any response to disasters.”

The project is meant to strengthen the capabilities for mental health and psychosocial support operating in the health sector by training health professionals within and outside the sector in each country.

It will also create a database of mental health professionals operating in the region to be mobilized to the affected country after natural disasters.

Jessie Schutt-Aine, PAHO’s Subregional Program Coordinator for the Caribbean, emphasized that “as we begin the 2018 hurricane season, we are pleased to launch this project and partnership with CDB.”

“It is imperative that we support our Member States’ preparedness and response efforts. Mental health and psychosocial support needs to be a key part of this process.”

Meteorologists have warned that this year’s hurricane season, which officially runs from June 3 to September 30, will be as bad, or worse, than last year’s. Researchers at Colorado State University are predicting seven hurricanes, as well as 14 named storms,  will form this year.

They also predict that of the hurricanes; three will fall in the range of category three or five, with a 52 percent chance of a hurricane panning over the Caribbean region. The probability is ten percent higher than last year’s estimate.

IMAGE: Damage and destruction in Puerto Rico after the passing of Hurricane Maria. | Photo: Reuters
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