Proceedings of the WHO/PAHO Technical Consultation on Foreign Medical Teams (FMTs) Post Sudden Onset Disasters (SODs)
Proceedings of the WHO/PAHO Technical Consultation on Foreign Medical Teams (FMTs) Post Sudden Onset Disasters (SODs). OPS/OMS, 2010, Havana, Cuba.
Many Foreign Field Hospitals (FFHs) were deployed to Haiti following the earthquake on January 12, 2010 as well as after several other recent disasters such as the earthquakes in Pakistan (2005), Iran (2003) and China (2008). The number of Foreign Field Hospitals and international medical teams mobilized in those sudden-onset disasters has increased. While they have been beneficial in many situations, they have also been frequently questioned regarding their timeliness, self-sufficiency, ability to adapt to the local system or even the quality of service provided.
In 2003, WHO/PAHO created the Guideline for the Use of Foreign Field Hospitals in the Aftermath of Sudden-Impact Disasters. Although this guideline remains valid, it needs to be updated in order to better take into account disasters that completely destroy health services as well as new technology and changing needs. In addition, the current guide is too limited to field hospitals and must include parameters for foreign medical teams (FMT) in order to ensure quality of care.
An improved guideline with the abovementioned additions will not have significant impact without describing a mechanism to coordinate the deployment of such FFH or medical teams. The urgency of that need has been exacerbated by the increasing number of actors and the will of the international community to make assistance more efficient. While creating this mechanism, it is essential to take into account the increased capacity of local authorities that if not recognized, could be seriously disrupted by overwhelming external assistance.
The WHO/PAHO guided consultation was held in Havana, Cuba from December 7-9, 2010. The three day technical meeting is considered to be the initial consultation of a much larger inclusive process. The meeting brought together various actors from the humanitarian community involved in sudden onset disasters. Some partners were unable to attend for various different reasons, and will be included in future activities throughout this process.