( By Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) )

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1. Introduction

Assessing the organization of the health sector and its response capability in disaster situations implies the development of a working methodology which allows the coverage of the entire health sector. Consideration should be given to the health structure's organization and functions, health institutions and technical programs, legislation, intrasectoral and intersectoral coordination, and other key areas relating to disaster response.

This publication intends to provide a practical approach to evaluating the most important aspects of health sector preparedness. The contents are based principally on the accumulated experience of the Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Coordination Program of PAHO in Member Countries of the Region of the Americas.

This protocol provides guidelines to be followed during the assessment process, the scope of activities to be carried out, and technical recommendations for strengthening natural disaster preparedness programs. The process is illustrated in flow charts which are annexed to this document. The main objectives of these guidelines are:

a) To identify the key elements to be considered during the assessment process;
b) To provide a checklist for gathering key information;
c) To identify potential information sources.
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