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Tonga: MOH and WHO lead workshop to enhance emergency response
Western Pacific
News Topic:
Capacity Building

26th September, 2018 An Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Country Preparedness Workshop commenced today at Tanoa International Dateline Hotel aimed in providing an opportunity for key country health and emergency services’ leaders to engage collectively and further strengthen the national capacity to respond to disaster emergencies and outbreaks including events that require the international emergencies teams.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) in collaboration with the World Health Organization are conducting the three-days’ workshop.

Acting CEO for Health Dr. Lei Ukamea Saafi said, “This workshop is an essential step in increasing Tonga’s preparedness for disaster response. The work done in the next three days will improve Tonga’s capacity to respond and coordinate emergency responses in the future.”

He said that the Pacific Island Countries and their territories are vulnerable to natural hazards and infectious outbreaks which can stretch normal health resources. These pose a major development challenge for the Pacific region and the environment.

“Tonga’s recent experience from Tropical Cyclone Gita in February 2018 is a recent reminder of our vulnerability to natural disasters. We, in the health sector, are keen to increase the national disaster response capacity because although international assistance has its place in disaster response, National Emergency Medical Teams is better placed to provide the early rapid and context-based assistance, required immediately following a disaster.”

“By the formation of a National Emergency Medical Team (EMT) the Ministry of Health team can provide rapid surge healthcare to affected populations in support of local health services that have become overwhelmed.”

The Ministry of Health has created a steering committee to guide the development of a national EMT and public health rapid response teams, define operational mechanisms and capacity, and improve the mechanisms for identifying needs, requesting and coordinating international assistance using the EMT coordination framework.

Dr Saafi urged participants to ensure that Tonga’s vulnerabilities are recognized, and mechanisms are in place for Tongans in need of emergency related health assistance to receive a safe, timely, effective, efficient and co-ordinated patient-centred care.

“The deliberations over today’s workshop will help to provide an opportunity for key country health and emergency service leaders to engage collectively and help form this new national capacity and to improve Tonga’s coordination of disaster response requiring international assistance if required.”

“I encourage you to participate and provide feedback to ensure the development of a resilient national EMT which addresses immediate, medium and long-term impacts of emergencies – be in natural disaster or disease outbreak.”

The workshop is facilitated by WHO’s Project Leader Emergency Medical Teams, Dr Ian Norton.

Original Report from the Government of Tonga: https://reliefweb.int/report/tonga/moh-and-who-lead-workshop-enhance-eme...