Hurricane Dorian Situation Report #16 (November 19, 2019)
• As of November 18, International Medical Corps’ medical teams had provided 1,067 consultations.
• International Medical Corps has trained 34 community health volunteers (CHVs), who will soon begin community outreach efforts targeting 10,000 individuals.
• More than 350 people have participated in mental health and psychosocial support awareness sessions sponsored by International Medical Corps.
It has been more than two months since Hurricane Dorian—the strongest storm in recorded history to strike the Bahamas—devastated infrastructure and interrupted health and social services on Grand Bahama and Abaco islands. The latest reports from the Royal Bahamas Police Force have confirmed a slight increase in the death toll: 67 deaths are now attributed to the storm, and an estimated 282 persons are still missing. Additionally, more than 13,000 homes on Grand Bahama and Abaco islands have been damaged or destroyed. Total economic losses for the country linger around $7 billion, more than half of the country’s gross national product.
As the country transitions from emergency response to recovery, the Prime Minister has renewed his appeal for assistance, noting that support is still needed as the country begins to rebuild. As of November 4, all Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) medical personnel on Grand Bahama have returned to work. However, because the hurricane severely affected infrastructure, equipment, medical supplies, and electrical and water supply on the island, the capacity of the healthcare delivery system has been hindered. According to an assessment report produced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the estimated cost of damage to the health sector on Grand Bahama and Abaco islands is $37.7 million. These high costs are expected to put a devastating strain on the national budget, particularly as the country has suffered economic losses due to the disruption of tourism.
In addition to high health costs, damage to facilities and equipment associated with water and sanitation is estimated at $14.8 million. The storm devastated pumping stations, storage tanks and distribution systems, leaving vulnerable population groups, such as the elderly and disabled, without access to potable water.
Additionally, changes in population distribution are expected to affect the availability of services and increase the need for support. For example, before the storm made landfall, residents from east Grand Bahama migrated to the large urban centers in the western region. As city services resume in the eastern part of the island, residents are expected to return to assess damage and reclaim their homes. This returning population will require support, particularly with water, sanitation and hygiene services. To meet this need, humanitarian organizations are assisting the government of the Bahamas by supplying water tankers and generators.