Health Disaster Coordinator, Dr. Ronald Georges received a communications kit today May 18 to support efforts towards the re-establishment of the health sector emergency telecommunications network.
The equipment was provided through the Pan American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) Disaster Management Programme and was handed over by Principal Consultant Mr. Ronnie Lettsome. The donation consists of Satellite Phones, VHF Handheld Radios, VHF Base Stations, water resistant cases, antennas and other accessories.
Dr. Georges expressed his gratitude to the Pan American Health Organization for the outpouring of support which they have provided to the Ministry since the impact from hurricanes Irma and Maria.
He said, “We have benefitted significantly from the partnership with PAHO’s Disaster Management Programme and this kit will address a critical gap in our operations and will allow us to be able to communicate effectively during crisis times.”
The Ministry of Health and Social Development is comprised of a number of key departments and agencies that must have access to immediate communications systems and tools in order to allow for effective response efforts. Dr. Georges explained that over time many of these systems have become inoperable as a result of changing technologies.
“We have tried our very best to keep the networks functioning but with rapid changes in technology, the funding is not always readily available to invest in the upgrades. We have learned from the 2017 events that quality information, made accessible to key decision makers, is paramount in enabling responders to make timely, informed decisions that save lives and ease human suffering. We must rebuild resilience in our communications systems and ensure that we have redundancies incorporated so that if there is a failure in one, we have others that we can depend on,” he said.
The equipment is currently being programmed by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) to enable it to function on the National Emergency Communications Network. It is expected that this kit will be used by the Ministry of Health and Social Development daily as well as during emergency periods to allow for inter and intra agency communications.
The DDM is also working with a number of regional and international partners as well as colleagues in various departments and agencies to rebuild and strengthen the territorial emergency telecommunications and early warning networks.
Plans are in place to re-establish what existed before Irma and Maria’s impacts and to expand and strengthen the network to meet international standards, thereby ensuring that systems are in place to support emergency response operations if the Territory is impacted this hurricane season.