Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Integrated Disaster Preparedness Model for Rural Population
The Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) has been running the SOLIDARIDAD Program with Federal funds for over 20 years. The Program is designed to provide integral health care to the countrys rural communities. To date it provides services to over 10 million low-income peasant and indigenous Mexicans through a system of 3,200 first-level Rural Medical Units (RMUs) managed by a doctor and a paramedic. The units function year round in 16 states.
In the case of the state of Veracruz, five rural hospitals and 205 RMUs serve more than 1,600,000 inhabitants, most of them peasants, and 25% of them members of indigenous groups.
The populations low level of schooling demands that information and education efforts be based on face to face community group meetings and the use of simple didactic material, preferably audiovisual.
The cornerstone of the IMSS SOLIDARIDAD Program is the community health organizations, which are aimed at preventive and basic health actions. Their effectiveness relies on the long tradition of community cooperation in rural areas, especially among indigenous communities. A total of 1,296 health committees have been set up in the state, and training has been provided to 1,051 rural health assistants, 9,708 rural health promoters, 589 rural midwives, and 356 traditional therapists, facilitating the carrying out of preventive and educational campaigns.
The purpose of the Program is to establish clear operational lines for acting before, during, and after an emergency. County and local teams, interdisciplinary teams, government bodies and community volunteers all know what their responsibilities are and what actions to take in the face of any type of emergency.
The general objetive is to systematize the procedures for planning, coordinating, and executing the actions required before, during, and after any natural or manmade disaster in order to mitigate, prevent, and respond to the damage and reduce the impact on the communities.
Training of health personnel on the Integral Disaster Response Model began in March. They were taught a simplified symbology for drawing local risk and resource maps, more than 600 of which have been produced to date. They have proven very useful in developing contingency plans in high-risk areas and their medical units.
In addition, the Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis (DANA) Methodology, which was taught by representatives from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) during the training courses, has begun to be implemented. Moreover, six community action promoters, a zonal medical advisor, and two unit conservation chiefs have already been trained, and 1,946 volunteers have participated in regional meetings to exchange experiences and ideas.
Contact has been made with the State Civil Protection Directorate, and educational material has been received, including posters, brochures, and audiovisual materials to complement the information produced at the community level. Videos on the characteristics of various types of disasters and on initial risk assessment techniques were also received; they have been useful in helping the population to decide on the actions that must be carried out before, during, and after an adverse event.
Less than a year after the Integral Disaster Response Model was launched, results are encouraging, particularly the high level of participation by the communities and the great work by the RMUs, which have carried out information, guidance, and training activities at the grassroots level.
However, much remains to be done. Preparations are underway for a training program for volunteer brigades. The Autonomous University of Veracruz has agreed to collaborate with the State Civil Protection Directorate to develop a training and mutual support program to facilitate timely intervention in the event of a disaster.
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