Earthquake in Mexico - 23 Jan 2003

Work continues to remove debris and attend to the health needs of those who were affected by the earthquake of 21 January in the western Mexican state of Colima. In most of the affected areas, drinking water supply and electric services are returning to normal. The Trojes Dam, which supplies water to Colima, suffered minor damage and damage to drinking water aqueducts that supply water to Villa de Alvarez is being repaired.
Colima's Secretary of Health has implemented a plan to prevent and control disease in the wake of the earthquake. Participating in the execution of the plan are all health sector institutions, including the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS), the Social Security Institute for State Employees (ISSSTE), the National Water Commission, the Red Cross and others.

The plan calls for epidemiological surveillance teams, assessment of needs for medical supplies and medicines, an assessment of damage to health infrastructure, mental health, and water quality control.

The Health Emergency Operations Center has been activated in Colima and is coordinating the deployment of teams to provide medical attention and control disease. A daily consolidated reporting system on the health situation has also been established.

Two health specialists from the Pan American Health Organization are working with the Secretary of Health in Colima. At present, the Government of Mexico has not requested international assistance, as they have been able to control the situation and meet needs with the resources they have available. The national emergency medical teams on the scene have gained experience in prior post-disaster operations, not only in Mexico, but in Honduras, Guatemala, Venezuela and El Salvador, where they had provided support.

A preliminary analysis of damage to health infrastructure reveals that the IMSS Hospital in Colima is operating at 50% capacity because of physical damage, particularly in pediatric and internal medicine services. The national government has provided support in the way of staff and supplies to treat patients.

Eleven other health centers suffered damage to their infrastructure. The health center in Las Conchas, located in the municipality Ixtlahuacán, and another four centers in Manzanillo, currently are not functional. On Friday, 24 January, a specialized assessment of the 84 health facilities that reported some type of damage will begin.