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IAEA-PAHO Follow-up Meeting on Emergency Preparedness and Response for Radiological Emergencies in the Caribbean Sub-Region

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IAEA-PAHO workshop participants. (Photo: IAEA)

A regional meeting on Emergency Preparedness and Response for Radiological Emergencies in the Caribbean Sub-Region organized by the IAEA in cooperation with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has been held from 6 – 8 June in Miami, USA.

Entitled ‘Bridging Radiation Emergencies Preparedness and Response in CARICOM Member States and Overseas Territories in the Caribbean Sub-Region: The perspective from GSR Part 7 Requirements and the IHR’, this meeting reflects the strong IAEA-PAHO relationship in the important area of radiation safety, which was further strengthened recently with the signing of a second Practical Arrangement on 1 June 2017.

The workshop, which was attended by 34 participants from 12 countries, followed up on an IAEA-PAHO meeting held in 2012, ‘Strengthening and Harmonizing National Capabilities for Response to Nuclear and Radiological Emergencies’. Participants included national decision makers managing radiation-related emergencies, national coordinators for preparedness and emergency response, and a representative from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Agency (CDEMA).

The workshop opened with presentations by PAHO and the IAEA on the International Health Regulations, the IAEA technical cooperation programme, and the IAEA’s work in regulatory infrastructure development as a basis for emergency preparedness and response (EPR). Participants were introduced to current and proposed regional technical cooperation projects on strengthening regulatory frameworks, including project RLA9082 on ‘Establishing and Strengthening Sustainable National Regulatory Infrastructures for the Control of Radiation Sources’.

Participants were also able to present progress made with regards to the status of their regulatory infrastructure and radiation emergency preparedness and response plans, taking into account the General Safety Requirements Part 7 (GSR Part 7) and the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations (IHR).

It was noted that substantial progress has been made by most countries since the 2012 meeting. The reports made by the countries clearly indicate their commitment and willingness to improve their radiation emergency preparedness and response. IAEA support in the latter field includes: notification and official information exchange; assessment of potential emergency consequences and prognosis of potential emergency progression; provision of public information; provision of assistance on request; and coordination of the inter-agency response through the IAEA Incident and Emergency System.

The presentations were followed by lively discussions. The exchange of information and lessons learned among the countries of the Caribbean sub-region has led to the development of a follow-up plan with concrete actions by the countries, PAHO and the IAEA.

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