The Regulation and Management of Emergency Medical Teams – Launch of a new IFRC and WHO Report

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have launched a comprehensive report entitled “The Regulation and Management of International Emergency Medical Teams”. The report provides an overview of the regulation and management of international emergency medical teams (EMTs) in a range of large and small-scale sudden onset disasters.

With the support of the WHO’s EMT initiative and the IFRC’s Disaster Law Programme, the Report collates information about EMT response issues, identifies best practices and provides recommendations for reducing potential harm and enhancing the positive impact of EMTs’ deployment in disasters. The Report includes inputs from a range of actors in this area and outlines experiences from various EMT response operations including Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu in 2015, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the Nepal earthquake in 2015 and the Ecuador earthquake in 2016.

Inter alia, the Report recommends to reduce the competence gap among EMTs. While the expertise and professionalism of well-established EMT providers is improving, unprepared and poorly equipped teams exist. The Reports also highlights that national preparedness to facilitate the entry and coordination of the EMTs during disaster response is essential. To achieve this, it is crucial for national authorities to enact relevant laws, rules and procedures to provide an enabling environment.8

The IFRC continues to support the efforts of Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and key partners, like WHO, to assist governments to develop the necessary regulatory procedures and, more importantly, ensure that they are well-understood and effectively implemented before a disaster strikes. Without the correct rules and procedures to regulate these increasingly complex contexts, it can be challenging to ensure that emergency medical teams are well-coordinated, that they effectively support national and local efforts, and meet the medical needs of the affected population.