WHO launches strategy for rapid response to health crises

Tuesday, 11 October, 2022

WHO launches strategy for rapid response to health crises

At a time of mounting health emergencies worldwide, from climate-related crises and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to the protracted war in Ukraine, more than 500 participants from the Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Network across WHO’s six regions came together in Yerevan, Armenia, for the recent 5th EMT Global Meeting.

The three-day gathering offered participants from over 110 countries — including EMTs, technical experts and international partners across a range of organisations — an opportunity to reflect on lessons learnt from the response to multiple emergencies, including innovative and lifesaving approaches and to discuss how to further strengthen the WHO-supported EMT Initiative going forward.

The EMT Initiative was formed after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, quickly growing into a significant network of qualified medical teams, trained and prepared to provide immediate support during an emergency. So far, 37 international teams have already been classified by WHO, with nearly 100 more currently undergoing the classification process to meet the highest standards of healthcare assistance in emergencies.

The 5th EMT Global Meeting is a landmark as it launches the EMT 2030 strategy — the blueprint for the next eight years to continue to develop a network of effective and high-performing national, subnational and regional EMTs in line with the WHO EMT classification and minimum standards. Participants from the network will contribute to the future development of the EMT Initiative that seeks to prioritise and enhance the capacity of local teams to respond to emergencies and strengthen the network to provide support when needed across diverse contexts.

In his opening statement at the meeting, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said, “As we build a new and stronger architecture for health emergency preparedness and response, a rapidly deployable global health emergency corps will be vital, building on the experience and capacities of Emergency Medical Teams.

“The EMT 2030 strategy envisions a world in which every country has the ability to respond rapidly and effectively to national emergencies, leveraging regional and sub-regional capacities to support vulnerable communities and others in need.”

Dr Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, reflected on lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and said that it revealed the importance of strengthening in-country health emergency response capacities alongside collaborative efforts for a swift and effective reaction to crises.

Image credit: iStockphoto.com/kali9

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