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Central American Network for Disaster and Health Information (CANDHI)

Project/Program Dates: 2001 - ongoing

The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean vie for the unfortunate distinction of having the greatest exposure to disasters of all regions in the world. Between 1971 and 1995, 1,824 disasters were recorded in the Americas, of which 1,246 were produced from natural phenomena. Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador are among the poorest countries in the region and therefore have the greatest need for assistance. Access to current, reliable health information is crucial for disaster prevention and preparedness planning. It is also essential during disaster response and recovery.

Soon after Hurricane Mitch, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) joined with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to strengthen the local and national health information infrastructures in Honduras and Nicaragua. In September of 2000, NLM awarded a contract to the Foundation for the Coordination of Information Resources for Disaster Prevention (Spanish language acronym "FundaCRID"), a non-governmental organization, to help Honduras and Nicaragua develop a system for collecting, organizing and disseminating health information related to disasters. Following the earthquakes in 2001, El Salvador was added to the project. Guatemala joined the network in 2004.

FundaCRID, based in Costa Rica, operates a Regional Disaster Information Center (CRID) for Latin America and the Caribbean. CRID, founded in 1994, is supported primarily by the Pan American Health Organization and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. CRID works to promote the development of a disaster prevention culture in Latin American and Caribbean countries through the compilation and dissemination of disaster-related information, and by encouraging cooperative efforts to improve risk management in the region.

The goal of the NLM-supported Central American Network for Disaster and Health Information (CANDHI) is to promote disaster reduction by capacity-building activities in the area of disaster-related information management. The target countries have established local Disaster Information Centers to collect, organize, store, and disseminate public health and medical information related to disasters. These centers will assist health professionals, government agencies, and non-government organizations in their countries to quickly access vital information that was previously unavailable.

Presentation on Central American Network for Disaster and Health Information (CANDHI) (PDF, 3.5 MB)

CANDHI Participating Centers

CANDHI Capacity Building

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