Disaster preparedness refers to measures taken to prepare for and reduce the effects of disasters. That is, to predict and prevent disasters, mitigate their impact on vulnerable populations, and respond to and effectively cope with their consequences. Disaster preparedness activities embedded with risk reduction measures can prevent disaster situations and also result in saving maximum lives and livelihoods during any disaster situation, enabling the affected population to get back to normalcy within a short time period.
CVTL undertook extensive contingency planning and awareness raising programs to prepare the Timor-Leste public for the possibility of pandemic health emergencies over the last five years. In this period the East Asian avian influenza and West African Ebola outbreaks posed significant risk to world health, while dengue and malaria had direct impact on Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste avoided any cases of either avian influenza in 2011/2012 or Ebola 2013/2014 and ‘look-back’ studies demonstrated that coordinated health initiatives reduced fatalities and incidence during the 2014 dengue outbreak.
With the MoH, CVTL addressed these threats in all 13 districts, by educating more than 100,000 people about emergency health through door-to-door campaigns, over-the-road banners, radio and television campaigns, community meetings and public service announcements at strategic locations. In tandem with information dissemination, 60 CVTL staff and volunteers received specialised training and worked with hospitals and health centres to ensure systems were in place for identification and management of these diseases including dead body disposal. In addition, during the 2014 Dengue outbreak, CVTL lead an 800 strong joint clean-up campaign in eight high-risk areas of Dili to stem the spread.