Pacific’s first international Emergency Medical Team announced in Fiji

 

Fiji’s Emergency Medical Assistance Team (FEMAT) is ready for international deployment says the World Health Organization (WHO), becoming the first team in the Pacific islands with this unique capability.

 

Verified as a Type 1 Fixed Emergency Medical Team (EMT), FEMAT is now able to respond domestically and across the Pacific, providing a broad range of medical and emergency services for up to 100 patients per day.

 

Having passed a comprehensive assessment by WHO in Suva over May 10-11, with observers from Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines taking part, FEMAT can provide initial emergency care for injuries and other acute health needs. This capability was tested on May 10, with WHO and observers reviewing a full deployment of FEMAT’s ‘field hospital’, as well as all clinical care services including triage, first aid, patient stabilization and referral of severe trauma and non-trauma emergencies.

 

Fiji’s Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete, responsible for FEMAT as a Ministry resource, said the verification demonstrated Fiji’s continuing investment in disaster preparedness and response, especially its commitment to high-quality and rapid health emergency response in Fiji and beyond.

 

“The Pacific is a hotspot for disasters and emergencies, particularly in the face of a changing climate. FEMAT is a vital tool in ensuring Fijians and our friends across the Pacific are better protected and supported in times of crisis. We are thrilled our investments have been recognised by WHO.”

 

Dr Corinne Capuano, Director of Pacific Technical Support and WHO Representative to the South Pacific, noted the pressing needs FEMAT will address.

 

“With 11 disasters and 26 outbreaks during 2018 in the Pacific, Fiji’s achievement is timely. FEMAT is positioned among an elite network of international EMTs able to rapidly deploy. Their efforts will save lives in Fiji and other Pacific island countries, and is a meaningful example of how a country has leveraged a WHO initiative to strengthen its capacity to respond to health emergencies in Fiji and across the Pacific.”

 

The verification involved in-depth reviews of FEMAT’s processes and policies, as well as assessments of the skills and equipment they need to deploy rapidly. Verification was confirmed on Saturday evening by the WHO, and awarded at a formal ceremony in Suva.

 

During the ceremony, Minister Waqainabete thanked international partners for their significant support, particularly Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and WHO.