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WHO global emergency workforce ready

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WHOThe World Health Organisation (WHO), has started a new registration system which would enable it to build a global roster of foreign medical response teams ready to deploy for emergencies.

The registry sets minimum standards for international health workers and allows teams to clearly outline their services and skills.

A statement by the WHO and copied to Ghana News Agency on Thursday said this would facilitate a more effective response and better coordination between aid providers and recipients.

“Thanks to the system we have developed, the international response to the cyclone in Vanuatu has been very
fast and efficient,” Dr Ian Norton, who leads the work on foreign medical teams at WHO said.

“We supported the Ministry of Health to ensure that every foreign medical team that arrived in Vanuatu was registered in the system and had the right training and equipment. This meant that teams have been able to provide care quickly and effectively to the people most in need.”

The statement noted that the first medical team arrived from Australia to support the local health workers just two days after the cyclone hit.

It said since then, 20 teams including more than 50 doctors, 40 nurses, 24 paramedics and 12 midwives had provided
assistance.

It noted that new teams continue to arrive, some by boat to fill positions as other teams return to their home countries.

The statement said in previous responses including the Haiti earthquake and the South Asia tsunami, some foreign teams arrived without informing the national health authorities or coordinating with other international responders.

According to it, although they had good intentions, sometimes the people lacked appropriate skills and local knowledge, were unfamiliar with the international response systems and standards, or brought inappropriate equipment that did not match the health needs of the people.

It said the standards developed by WHO built on lessons learned during previous emergency responses including the West African Ebola outbreak for which WHO coordinated the deployment of nearly 60 foreign medical teams provided by 40 organisations.

The statement pointed out that it was the first time that foreign medical teams were deployed during an outbreak.

It said Ebola care during the multi-country outbreak had called for unique medical knowledge and equipment, and had carried risks for health workers.

It said the progress that had been made against Ebola was in part due to the response by the national and international teams working together in 72 Ebola treatment centres across three countries.

“WHO’s work to improve the global response to emergencies has benefits for all countries. It is helping to build the skills and capacities of national teams to respond to their own emergencies and eventually be better able to help other countries,” said Dr Norton.

The statement said WHO is developing best practice guidelines and standards for teams to respond to specific needs including care of children, pregnant women, patients with disabilities and older people.

Source: GNA

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