Project - health in humanitarian emergencies:
Supporting the global health cluster and establishing a Malteser International emergency medical team
Malteser International has been a partner in the World Health Organisation-led Global Health Cluster (GHC) since 2014. Since then, we have significantly stepped up our activity providing resources and technical expertise, with support of the German Federal Foreign Office, to help address global health concerns. Amongst other things, Malteser International is co-chair of the GHC Capacity Development Task Team, which is responsible for developing and implementing the Health Cluster Capacity Development Strategy 2016-2019 to strengthen leadership, coordination and overall performance of Country Health Clusters. We are also supporting GHC efforts to address the growing challenges posed by epidemics, natural disasters, refugee crises, and violent conflict by strengthening our own organisational capacity to respond to health emergencies, and boosting our capacity to engage in international response operations led by WHO through the establishment of a Malteser International Emergency Medical Team (EMT).
The Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2013, and a number of other health emergencies, highlighted the shortage of skilled emergency medical teams ready for immediate deployment to respond to emergencies, especially in the case of protracted crises. This required action. The Department of Humanitarian Assistance at the German Foreign Federal Office, took the responsible step of engaging in a range of initiatives to ameliorate this situation. Their sponsorship of this project is one of them. The project consists of three components: i) the establishment of a Malteser International EMT, ii) strengthening and supporting the WHO-led GHC, by providing human resources for performance monitoring missions, supporting emergency missions, and other tasks; and iii) establishing a link, and providing an advocate between German humanitarian actors and the GHC.
In April 2016, Malteser International conducted a comprehensive training of its newly EMT. This four day session consisted of several modules, including emergency preparedness, rapid assessment methodologies and practical exercises; emergency and media communications; water and sanitation in emergencies; response mechanisms in a cholera outbreak, and quality assurance measurements for medical supplies. This training was conducted by Malteser International’s health and emergency relief team, and externally supported by the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief, the Humanitarian Procurement Centre Action Medeor, and the German public broadcasting institution Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln.
To further strengthen the capacity of the EMT, one staff member was dispatched to refugee facilities along the Thai-Myanmar border for further in-house training on disease control in complex settings, while another EMT member participated in the new WHO Emergency Operations Training. Malteser International participated in the GHC Partner Meeting on 23-24 June 2016 in Geneva, to discuss the new WHO Health Emergency Programme and key recommendations of the World Humanitarian Summit and how their respective emerging commitments will reshape the global health and humanitarian landscape.
In May 2016, Malteser International commenced the pre-registration process for its EMT. It is hoped that the certification process will be complete by February 2017. Upon registration the EMT will be able to also support the European Medical Team which is currently being registered by WHO. A number of joint WHO/GHC/Malteser International health cluster monitoring performance missions are scheduled during the third and fourth quarter of 2016 - including visitis to Ethiopia, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Syria. Malteser International will also be participating in a Europe-wide simulation exercise for European civil protection groups (TRIPLEX) in Southern Norway during September 2016. This is a seven-day long humanitarian field exercise to practice responding in a simulated emergency onset scenario in cooperation with UN partners, the EU, the Red Cross, international NGOs, governments, and the military. Future Malteser International training will include our local partners as first responders, and will probably be carried out in one of the disaster-prone regions where an EMT deployment is likely.