NASSAU, The Bahamas, Monday September 30, 2019 – The world must rally around the Bahamas in the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Dorian which has not only cost many lives and livelihoods but caused severe damage to essential infrastructure, depriving communities of vital services at a critical time, says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).
He was speaking at the end of a visit to the Bahamas. The WHO has mobilized US$1 million from the Contingency Fund for the country’s hurricane response.
“It breaks my heart to see the devastation to communities and families who have lost friends and loved ones as well as their homes, possessions and access to crucial services,” said Dr Tedros. “Hurricane Dorian is another urgent reminder that we must address the drivers of climate change and invest more in resilient communities. The longer we wait, the more people will suffer. We need to keep the world and people safe.”
During his visit, Dr Tedros met with the Governor-General, Minister of Health and other government officials and commended their preparedness, readiness and efforts to mitigate the damage caused by the hurricane.
The visit included stops in Abaco and Grand Bahama where most households and infrastructure, including healthcare facilities, were completely destroyed. Dr Tedros was accompanied by Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands. A Category 5 Hurricane Dorian hit the country on September 1, 2019, affecting 75, 000 people. About 1,500 people are still being housed in shelters; about 600 are still missing; and 53 have been confirmed dead.
The health sector in Abaco and Grand Bahama suffered a substantial blow, with equipment and medical supplies destroyed and electrical and water supplies interrupted. Three health clinics in Grand Bahama, and two in Abaco, were destroyed.
The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), which is the specialized health agency of the Inter-American System and serves as the Regional Office of WHO for the Americas, is the only United Nations agency with a physical presence in the Bahamas. PAHO-WHO has deployed 20 staff members and coordinated the mobilization of seven International Emergency Medical Teams for the response. Dr Tedros thanked the teams for their rapid response and tireless service to the most vulnerable.