Emergency medical teams provide urgent medical and surgical care in emergencies characterized by a surge in trauma or disease. Rehabilitation has historically not been included in the acute phase of care, as teams have either not perceived it as their responsibility or have relied on external providers, including local services and international organizations, to provide services. Low- and middle-income countries, which often have limited rehabilitation capacity within their health system, are particularly vulnerable to disaster and are usually ill-equipped to address the increased burden of rehabilitation needs that arise. The resulting unmet needs for rehabilitation culminate in unnecessary complications for patients, delayed recovery, reduced functional outcomes, and often impede return to daily activities and life roles. Recognizing the systemic neglect of rehabilitation in global emergency medical response, the World Health Organization, in collaboration with key operational partners and experts, developed technical standards and recommendations for rehabilitation which are integrated into the WHO verification process for EMTs.
This protocol report presents:
- The rationale for the development of the standards and accompanying recommendations
- The methodology of the development process
- The minimum standards and other significant content included in the document
- Challenges encountered during development and implementation
- Current and next steps to continue strengthening the inclusion of rehabilitation in emergency medical response.