Health ministry and WHO to enhance emergency preparedness

Collaboration: To enhance preparedness and response in the country, a three-day workshop on constructing and utilising Medical Camp Kits (MCK) concluded in Thimphu on November 23, according to a health ministry press release.

The MCKs are considered a key resource for ensuring health service continuity in times of emergencies and are designed to provide many of the inpatient and outpatient services expected at regular health facilities. The kits are solar-powered and have water and sanitation kits and also  facilities and supplies necessary to ensure reproductive health.

As a part of the horizontal collaboration activity between Bhutan and Nepal the health ministry and the World Health Organisation (WHO) conducted the training.

Regional director for WHO Southeast Asia, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said that the medical camp kits are a vital part of emergency preparedness and response.

“Where health facilities are damaged or destroyed, medical camp kits provide a quick, durable and highly effective platform for earthquake and we are most pleased to see them introduced as part of preparedness efforts here,” she said.

WHO representative to Bhutan, Dr Ornella Lincetto said that the event was an opportunity for a number of emergency responders to come together and familiarise themselves with the medical camp kits.

“Not only did we work on how to construct them, but we also went through the practicalities of how they would function in the context of Bhutan’s wider preparedness plans, particularly as they relate to earthquakes,” she said.

Dr Lincetto emphasised Bhutan’s development of preparedness and response tools in recent years, including the standard operating procedures for mass casualty management and hospital emergency departments, as well as vulnerable assessment guidelines.

According to the press release, the workshop comes in the wake of a groundbreaking resolution adopted at the 69th Regional Committee in Sri Lanka earlier this year. At the committee, member states across the region agreed to create a separate stream within the Southeast Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund specifically to finance preparedness initiatives.

The fund was earlier used for emergency response financing only.

The training workshop was facilitated by WHO staff from Bhutan and Nepal and was attended by officials from the health ministry, members of the Royal Bhutan Police and Royal Bhutan Army, Desuung, Thimphu thromde officials and Department of Disaster Management staff.

The training sessions were followed by a handing-over ceremony, where an MCK was gifted to Bhutan’s health minster.

Staff reporter

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