US$470,000 to support mental health in aftermath of natural disasters

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, June 14, 2018

Citizens of countries prone to natural disasters will benefit from a US$470,000 programme aimed at offering mental health support after those natural disasters.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) signed the agreement on Wednesday, to enhance capacity for mental health and psychosocial support in disaster management in the Caribbean.

PAHO’s Sub-regional Programme Coordinator for the Caribbean, Jesse Schutt Aine (left), and Vice-President (Operations), CDB, Monica La Bennett (right), sign the agreement yesterday in Barbados.

CDB’s Vice-President (Operations), Monica La Bennett said despite the high vulnerability of the Region to these types of events, the Caribbean has approached recovery and rehabilitation efforts by focusing on infrastructure and physical mitigation plans only.

“While ‘building back better’ is indeed necessary and critical, there is also a need to prepare populations to better cope with natural hazards by focusing on mental and psychosocial well-being,” La Bennett said.

She said strengthening social and individual resilience should always be a key component of any response to disasters.

PAHO’s Sub-regional Programme Coordinator for the Caribbean, Jessie Schutt-Aine said the project is being launched during the current 2018 hurricane season. According to her, the experiences and lessons learnt by the PAHO Health Emergencies team and key stakeholders from last year’s hurricanes Irma and Maria will be incorporated in the project implementation.

“It is imperative that we support our Member States’ preparedness and response efforts. Mental health and psychosocial support need to be a key part of this process.”

According to the CDB, the project is aimed at building capacity for mental health and psychosocial support within the health sector through regional and in-country training within the sector, and agencies outside the sector and the wider community.

PAHO’s sub-regional programme coordination office in Barbados will be responsible for the overall management and coordination of the project. It will be implemented over an 18-month period on a regional scale and in five of CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries, some of which were affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

By: Alexis Rodney.