Four years after Haiyan: Building national teams following lessons learnt

On 8 November 2013, the world watched as the strongest typhoon ever seen pummelled through the Philippines, taking over seven thousand lives and affecting an estimated sixteen million people in the archipelagic country.

Within days international emergency medical teams rushed to help but were met with many challenges that prompted the government-led coordination of over 150 teams in the response. For the first time ever, the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office in the Philippines were able to operationalize the international minimum standards for Emergency Medical Teams in their coordination. Now, four years after the Typhoon, the DOH and WHO have partnered again to pilot the first training of National Emergency Medical Teams.

“What we are doing here is building, in parallel with the international health emergency work force, strong national emergency medical teams that are in the best place to respond should another Haiyan occur in country. The Philippine Department of Health has been very impressive in taking ownership of training up their teams and we will continue to be here to support and learn from them as they build their teams to meet national as well as international standards,” said Dr Gundo Weiler, WHO Country Representative for the Philippines.

The training was held on 2-6 October 2017 in Tacloban, Leyte, one of the first and hardest hit areas by Typhoon Haiyan. Here, the participants from every Region of the country came together to undergo a training of trainers course facilitated by the WHO Emergency Medical Teams Secretariat, the WHO Regional Office in the Western Pacific, and the WHO Country Office in the Philippines.

WHO/F. Guerrero

The training empowers the Philippine teams to conduct an assessment of their learning needs and customize the common global EMT training package to meet those needs. The result is a nationally owned training course delivered by the DOH for all EMT personnel within the Philippines, drawing on the very latest training methods and content available worldwide.

“Being one of the first responders during Typhoon Haiyan, I can honestly say we could not have picked a more significant place to launch this course. Even four years after, we are still learning from this and we’re hopeful that from this course, many national teams around the world will benefit and be able to contribute with experiences from their countries as well,” explained Dr Ian Norton, Manager, Emergency Medical Teams Secretariat.

WHO/F. Guerrero

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