NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) projects it could be over a year before some health care services are fully restored in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Country Representative Dr. Esther De Gourville underscored the monster storm’s “tremendous” impact on the sidelines of the Universal Children’s Healthy Lifestyle Seminar on Saturday.
“Overall in terms of the health sector, the impact has been tremendous, over $100 million worth of damage,” said De Gourville.
“Particularly our biggest concern at the moment is to restore services at Rand Memorial Hospital, which would cost some $20 million or more.
“We’ve had losses in terms of equipment, pharmaceuticals and so on.
She continued: “This is not an easy thing to do, to recover at a time when the government has to address so many needs.
“The estimated cost of the hurricane exceeds $3.5 billion and all sectors need to be looked after. Health is doing its best through international partners, through PAHO and others helping to restore services.”
De Gourville said: “But it’s not going to be an overnight success. We anticipate that it would take several months and in the case of the hospital maybe a year or more before services are full restore. So there has been a serious impact on the health sector.”
Hurricane Dorian barreled its way through Abaco and Grand Bahama on September 1-3, devastating health care services in the storm impacted areas.
The Rand had to been taken out of commission due to the severe flooding which caused blackwater intrusion – water mixed with stool or sewage – and subsequent mold overgrowth.
Samaritan’s Purse International Relief Organization has been handling the majority of the delivery of health care services on the island from a field hospital.
The Rand Memorial Hospital, the High Rock Clinic, health facilities in McClean’s Town and a number of east Grand Bahama facilities were lost during the storm.
In the interim, there are Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) providing service to a number of areas on the island.
De Gourville touted PAHO’s efforts to aid the thousands of people impacted.
“PAHO has been in The Bahamas for over 40 years,” she said.
“Hurricane Dorian is a representative of just an additional activity that we’ve had to carry out.
“We’ve had programs helping the government to improve preparedness for disasters and for health related public health emergencies.
“We’ve done things like logistics management. We’ve done training for psycho social support, helping the Ministry of Health to mobilize teams to help with the mental health issues from the hurricane.
“We’ve helped to get the international medical teams that have come in to provide hospital services on Grand Bahama such as Samaritan’s Purse and other medical teams that substituted for health care in areas where the clinics were destroyed in both Grand Bahama and Abaco.
“We’ve also been ensuring that we have a public health surveillance system in place so that we can have early detection of problems such as respiratory diseases, diarrhea disease, rodent born diseases and obviously we are working hand of hand with the Minstry of Health and National Emergency Management Agency to ensure full restoration of all health services for the two islands.”