PAHO collaborating actively with Venezuela to relieve national tragedy

Regional Office for the Americas

Access to Clean Water First Priority for Victims

Caracas, 29 December 1999 (PAHO) --- Access to clean water continues to be the first priority for the victims of the recent floods in Venezuela, declared Dr. Isa=DDas Daniel GutiÚrrez, representative of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in Venezuela.

Venezuela urgently needs six water purification plants able to process 10 liters per second, according to an analysis prepared by the Venezuelan water agency HIDROVEN, the ministries of environment and health, and the Pan American Health Organization. Three water plants are needed in the Quebrada San Juli=DFn area and three in the Quebrada Cerro Grande area of La Guaira, in the state of Vargas. Coordination is under way with donor countries and international agencies to procure this equipment, Dr. GutiÚrrez said.

Since the disaster began, PAHO/WHO has been providing technical cooperation to the Ministry of Health and Social Development in epidemiological surveillance, water, and environmental sanitation, mental health and health services, he added.

At the request of the Minister of Health, Dr. Gilberto Rodr=DDguez Ochoa, PAHO/WHO is coordinating the international donation of drugs and medical supplies to Venezuela.

Dr. Gutierrez said, "It is preferable that donations be made in cash, through the embassies of Venezuela, since it is desirable to do the procurement in the country to facilitate logistical aspects."

PAHO wants to alert potential donors about the drawbacks of donating any drugs which have not been requested by the country, he said. "These articles are inappropriate both from the medical and legal standpoint. Unrequested pharmaceutical products occupy space that is needed for other purposes and divert the attention of medical staff from other, more urgent tasks, since it is necessary to sort, classify, and label these products," Dr. Gutiérrez said.

On the Web page, donors can find the list official of drugs and medical supplies prepared by the Ministry of Health and Social Development, as well as guidelines for donations.

The Pan American Health Organization works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and raise the living standards of their peoples. It also serves as the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization.

For more information please contact Daniel Epstein, telephone (202) 974-3459,, fax (202) 974-3143,PAHO Office of Public Information,