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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Global Disasters: Lessons Learned from New Orleans, Haiti & Chile, APA Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 25 May 2010

Colleagues from around the world participated in the APA Forum "Global Disasters: Lessons Learned from New Orleans, Haiti & Chile," which was organized by the APA, WPA, and the Conflict Management Section and PAHO/WHO.

The Forum was co-chaired by Drs. Karen De Salvo, chair, Internal Medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine and myself. The panelists included General Russel Honore, the former Commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, Dr. Jean Luc Poncelet of PAHO/WHO, and Rand Corporation Clinical Fellow, Dr. Ben Springgate, a native of New Orleans. 

The panelists compared postdisaster lessons learned from New Orleans, Haiti  and Chile, including the recent BP oil disaster in the Gulf. Also discussed was the prevention, mitigation and response of ecological systems and health/mental health consequences, including the health/mental health of caregivers

A robust dialogue with the audience followed, punctuated by General Honore's unequivocal assertion of the current oil disaster in the Gulf being "our Chernobyl" and his impassioned appeal to be mindful of the needs not only of main street and Wall Street, but also of "railroad street," and the vulnerable populations there, including the elderly, the poor and disabled.

The panelists and participants also emphasized the need for public/private and civilian/military institutions collaboration, as well the emergence of new, innovative and effective responses, prevention, mitigation, and response models.

Eliot Sorel, M.D.
Chair, APA Global Disasters Forum

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