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Historical Landmarks

Historical Timeline

  • NOVEMBER 2013

    Super-typhoon Haiyan ravages the central part of the Philippines archipelago. WHO activates an organization-wide mobilization to work closely with the government. The WHO standards are used successfully for the first time. The Department of Health Philippines coordinates the deployment of 151 medical teams and finds the new classification system fit for this purpose.

  • MAY 2013

    WHO issues the first ever Classification and Minimum Standards for Emergency Medical Teams (then called Foreign Medical Teams) in sudden-onset disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons. These guidelines outline principles and set forth core standards for how registered Emergency Medical Teams must function; and declare their operational capabilities.

  • DECEMBER 2011

    A working group on FMTs meets for the first time and commits to the need for a registration process for teams and minimal quality assurance systems that would allow receiving countries to identify teams able to meet and adhere to those minimal standards and meet their needs.

  • MAY 2011

    As part of a profound reform process, WHO Member States identify emergencies as a critical part of the Organization’s work. WHO creates a new work stream to ensure its capacity to repare for and respond to outbreaks and emergencies with health consequences.


    Major earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand trigger responses from national and international medical teams. For these emergencies coordination occurs within existing health mergency Operation Centres, and countries are clear on what assistance they will accept or decline.

  • DECEMBER 2010

    WHO, the Pan American Health Organization (WHO Regional Office for the Americas) and partners convene a meeting in Cuba to discuss the Haiti response and determine the need to set standards and a coordination mechanism for Foreign Medical Teams (FMTs)

  • JANUARY 2010

    A catastrophic earthquake in Haiti causes hundreds of thousands of injuries. The international response is unprecedented, but coordination between teams is poor. Lives that that could have been saved are lost, and the global development community is awakened to the need for better-coordinated responses to emergencies.