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WHO calls for better preparedness in emergencies

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called upon countries in the Southeast Asia region to strengthen their emergency medical teams in order to be better prepared to respond to public health emergencies.

The advisory comes at a time when a large number of emergency medical teams (EMTs) or emergency response teams have been arriving in affected countries to provide emergency care to affected people.

The Southeast Asia region is vulnerable to various disasters and emergencies such as earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, landslides and volcanic eruptions. According to the 2016 World Disaster Report, over the past decade, the region disproportionately accounted for 26.8% of deaths in emergencies.

Prone to natural disaster, the region has been focusing on scaling-up emergency risk management as a flagship priority.

EMTs can be national, international, government, non-governmental, civilian or military. They have have varied capacities, and their deployment is often not based on assessed needs.

Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO-Southeast Asia Region, said, “Strengthening national and regional-level emergency medical teams is a high-impact investment in reducing deaths, diseases and disabilities due to disasters, outbreaks and other emergencies. Emergency medical teams contribute to life-saving critical interventions.’’

She added that, to be more effective, EMTs need to be standardised, strengthened and well-coordinated.

WHO is helping mentor EMTs to improve their capacities in line with international standards. The WHO EMT-Initiative aims at supporting countries, NGOs and international organisations by identifying minimum standards, best practices, logistics and standard operating procedures for operating field coordination, for saving lives, preserving health, and protecting dignity.

The initiative seeks to improve timeliness and quality of health services provided by national and international EMTs, and enhance the capacity of the national health system to lead and coordinate such teams.

“In an emergency, the outcome of the response depends on how quickly the right expertise reaches the right place at the right time to meet the needs of the affected people,” Dr. Khetrapal Singh said.

WHO urged member countries to develop and implement a national plan for strengthening systems for EMTs in collaboration with all key partners, and establish and strengthen national mechanisms, which supports effective and high-performing national EMTs in line with the WHO’s classification and standards.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 11:39:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/who-calls-for-better-preparedness-in-emergencies/article24920235.ece

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