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Suva, Fiji – An Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Country Preparedness Workshop began today at Pacific Harbour aimed in providing an opportunity for key country health and emergency service leaders to engage collectively and further strengthen national capacity to respond to disaster emergencies and outbreaks including events that require international Emergency teams.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services with support from the World Health Organization is conducting an Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Country Preparedness Workshop. This is part of the commitment towards disaster preparedness, and experience in deploying national rapid response teams and accepting elements of the new global health emergency workforce (Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs), Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) The Government and Ministry of Health & Medical Services accepted a WHO proposal to run a GHEW workshop in late October 2016 to expand its capacity to respond and coordinate responses to emergencies in future.

The Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MoHMS) has created a technical working group (TWG) to manage the project and in particular the development of national EMTs and public health rapid response teams and improve the mechanisms for identifying needs, requesting and coordinating international assistance using the EMT coordination framework and access to expert groups such as GOARN. The Fiji EMT is known as FEMAT (Fiji Emergency Medical Assistance Team).

The workshop aims to help Fiji Islands national health response system better manage deployments for national clinical and public health teams to areas of need during outbreaks and disasters. It further is aimed to understand what the World Health Organization and partners support to national response efforts, how to activate and access teams and experts from international EMTs and GOARN. The workshop will be able to match country level risks and gaps with international EMT capacities as well help develop national response standard operating procedures (SOPs) at every stage of the response cycle to incorporate national and international EMT capacities.

The Deputy Secretary Public Health, Dr. Eric Rafai opening the workshop said that this training is aimed at bringing together a group of health professionals with supporting Ministries and partners to prepare for emergency health care specifically for disaster affected populations. He further reminded the participants that the Pacific was just a few days away from the next cyclone season and that this preparedness workshop was timely to revisit our collective effort for emergency medical responses to disaster and emergency scenarios.

Mr. Sean Casey, the Health Cluster Coordinator of WHO, Suva also spoke and pledged the support of the WHO Suva Office towards the EMT Pacific Initiative. He assured the participants WHO support in emergency preparedness and response capacity in the health sector.

The first day had participants from Ministry of Health & Medical Service, representatives from the Red Cross, National Disaster Management Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Representatives from the RFMF, Navy, Police and National Fire Authority, a representative from Fiji National University, the representatives from Volunteer First Responder and UN agencies.

The workshop is facilitated by WHO EMT Secretariat Team from Geneva, WHO Manila Office and WHO Suva with guest’s speakers also from the Australian Medical Assistance Team (AusMAT) and the New Zealand Assistance Team (NZMAT) teams. The EMT Pacific initiative is supported through the World Health Organization through the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs support. The workshop ends on Thursday.

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