Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands explained that as The Bahamas moves into the recovery stage after Category Five Hurricane Dorian hit the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama recently, the Ministry will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Americares organization on February 24, 2020. During a press conference at the Ministry, January 29, 2020, Minister Sands said the MOU will facilitate critical primary health, mental health and psychosocial support services, with a social worker and clinical psychologist, to Hurricane Dorian survivors. It will also include training to strengthen the capacity of the Bahamian healthcare system specifically through the Ministry of Health, with first responders and other stakeholders to aid the recovery from Hurricane Dorian.
He pointed out that since September 4, 2019, Americares submitted to the Ministry of Health its ability to deploy a type one mobile emergency medical team to provide support and access to primary healthcare services. “Soon thereafter, Americares quickly went to work to conduct damage assessments on the island of Abaco to understand its needs remaining in close contact with the Min. of Health, the Pan American Health Organization and other partners.” Americares is a health focused relief and development organization that saves lives and improves the health of people affected by poverty or disaster.
Established 40 years ago, Americares has provided more than $18 billion worth of aid in 164 countries including the U.S, and each year the organization responds to approximately 30 natural disasters and humanitarian causes. It focuses closely on the establishment of long-term recovery projects and disaster preparedness programmes to vulnerable communities. Minister Sands said, “Americares provided medicine, clinical and physiological support services to close the gaps made by the destruction of many of our health facilities and also addressed the medical needs of remaining residents in Marsh Harbour, Elbow Cay and Man-O-War Cay.
“Operations were expanded to include Fox Town, Cooper’s Town, Sandy Point, Guana Cay and Green Turtle Cay.” He explained that on September 11, 2019, Americares started providing primary care services, medicine and mental health and psychosocial support to the shelters in New Providence to the residents who relocated from Abaco. “Subsequently, they also provided mobile health aid to Abaco. For nearly five months on the island of New Providence and nearly four months in Abaco, Americares has provided more than 4,000 medical and more than 2,500 mental health and psychosocial support consultations to persons impacted by Dorian.” The Health Minister stated, “Americares provided these services in New Providence alongside our hardworking Ministry of Health staff from the community clinics and public hospitals.”
He said with the forthcoming MOU, Americares has also agreed to provide medicine and to collect data to assist the Ministry of Health to track diseases, referrals and health service utilizations during the recovery and also on joint efforts on public relations & communications. It will also foster a collaborative partnership and allows for Americares to expand its clinical services for Hurricane Dorian survivors in New Providence. Moreover, Americares will continue to provide health and mental health, psychological services in Abaco. Americares Hurricane Dorian Response Team Leader, Cora Nally noted that her organization has delivered medicine, medical supplies and relief items valued at more than $2.6 million to support the health needs of survivors.