Washingtom – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released a guide on Friday urging countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to step up their post-flood surveillance efforts to quickly identify and control outbreaks with serious repercussions. on public health.
In an epidemiological alert on “post-flood public health events in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic”, PAHO noted that heavy rains in the region, which have already caused severe flooding in Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, could continue until March due to the La Niña weather phenomenon.
They could also impose additional burdens on overstretched health systems already battling COVID-19, PAHO warned.
“Floods and landslides can disrupt water supplies and sewage systems, contaminate crops and food, and displace people into makeshift shelters, where they face overcrowding, poor sanitation and other risk factors,” the PAHO alert said.
“Infection prevention and control measures are essential in these shelters to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 and other outbreaks,” he added.
PAHO said common health events after floods and landslides include acute diarrheal disease and leptospirosis infections from exposure to contaminated water.
“Early and adequate treatment of these diseases can save lives,” the statement said.
It was recommended that countries establish early warning and response systems (EWARS) to detect disease outbreaks and health events that require an immediate response.
PAHO said source information for EWARS includes disease surveillance, community surveillance, environmental and ecological observations, and health-related behavioral information such as drug and product sales.
Contaminated water after the floods will require prevention, disinfection and communication measures, PAHO said, recommending local health authorities to implement continuous monitoring of water quality for human consumption and food preparation; provide drinking water in sufficient quantity and adequate information to the populations. (CMC)