NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands yesterday underscored the need for mental health support for victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Sands, who spoke to reporters outside Cabinet, pointed to the ministry’s situation reports which detail the delivery of healthcare to those impacted by the storm.
“That situation report that we created deliberately identifies the gaps or the challenges and then it allows us to recalibrate our efforts,” Sands said.
“Mental health is a big, big concern and we have to keep ramping up metal health support.”
The ministry’s September 27 situation report lists a series of actions taken to address mental health concerns.
Among those were sensitization sessions held with Creole-speaking pastors in the area of psychosocial support, and a collaboration with international partners to bring psychosocial support services to the Abacos.
Sands also addressed concerns regarding sexual and reproductive health services (SRH) offered to storm victims staying in shelters.
“The concern whenever people are in shelters is the possibility of an increased chance of sexual abuse, molestation and so on and so forth, so we have to be on the lookout for that,” Sands said.
“That doesn’t mean that we have seen it here, it is that internationally when you have people in shelters that is a consistent issue.”
The health minister added the government has to ramp up its vector surveillance and control of mosquitoes rats, and others.
“All of these things are very, very important in the aftermath of a hurricane,” Sands said.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) advised on Monday two vector control teams are on Grand Bahama carrying out fogging for the control of mosquitoes.
For Abaco, NEMA noted that vector control teams have been conducting systematic checks for vectors on the island.
“In the past week (October 1-5), emphasis was placed on the settlements of Marsh Harbor, Dundas Town, Murphy Town and Great Cistern areas,” NEMA said.
“These areas were treated and fogged for the control of vermin (mosquitoes, rodents, roaches etc.).
“All Governments properties included ports, clinics, and airports were included in this exercise.
“The local sanitary landfill was checked periodically for the proliferation of mosquitoes, flies etc.”