Emergencies and Emergency Preparedness

Following the deliberations by the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) in January 2016, the Director General, Deputy Director-General and Regional Directors of WHO expressed their utmost commitment to reform the health emergencies work of WHO in a comprehensive way through the establishment of one single Programme; with one workforce, one budget, one set of rules and processes and one clear line of authority and an independent mechanism of assessment and monitoring of the performance of the Organization in this work portfolio covering emergencies due to all hazards.

As part of this reform member states were prioritized for support based on hazard, vulnerability and capacities. Member states facing major acute or prolonged crisis are at the highest priority level. Nepal was graded by the WHE Programme as one of the two countries in the South East Asia Region at the next level of priority. Subsequently, the Emergencies and Humanitarian Actions Unit at WHO Country Office for Nepal was renamed as the WHE Programme with mandate to support the member state6 for health sector emergency preparedness and response readiness for all hazards, natural – geophysical, climatological and biological - and man-made – accidents, chemical radiological etc. Additional and related areas such as Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) surveillance and food safety are also dealt with by this unit. The programme has been supporting the member state through both normative work and implementation / operations support at the field level.

Some of the programme specific milestones are listed below.

Country Health Emergency Preparedness and the International Health Regulations (2005):

• Lessons Learnt Conference - organized at national involving all key stakeholders with a clear framework to share and review lessons learnt and best practices during the health sector response to Nepal Earthquake 2015
• WHO South East Asia Regional Benchmark assessment for emergency preparedness and response readiness completed for the second time in Nepal to ascertain the progress from 2010 to 2015
• The first annual National Conference for Rapid Response Teams organized as a platform for sharing lessons, best practices and challenges and for technical capacity building
• Health Sector Emergency Contingency Planning completed for all 75 districts in the country

Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment:

• Risk Assessments for Cholera, Ebola and Zika completed and validated.
• Comprehensive review of the Early Warning and Reporting System (EWARS) completed as the precursor for planning a comprehensive national disease surveillance system
• The creation and management of a data repository for health sector response to Nepal Flood and Landslides 2017 coordinated

Emergency Operations:

• Continuous functioning of National Health Emergency Operation Center (HEOC) supported and three provincial HEOCS have been established and handed over to the Ministry of Health
• Hub hospitals in Kathmandu valley supported to review and strengthen their functional preparedness for emergencies post- Nepal earthquake 2015 with updated Incident Command Systems, Mass Casualty Management Plans and Emergency Medical Logistics Warehouses with essential logistic stockpiles
• Based on the experience supporting the hub hospitals of Kathmandu valley, enhancement of comprehensive hospital preparedness and response capacity for multi-hazard emergencies being scaled up at four hub hospitals in the two most hazard prone and vulnerable provinces of Nepal. In this DIPECHO supported project, consortium partners are managing the pre-hospital (Danish Red Cross) and post hospital (Humanity & Inclusion) components
• Do It Yourself (DIY) Video developed to enhance country capacity for the installation and dismantling of the WHO Medical Camp Kit (MCK) with limited expert logisticians support
• Contingency Plan and Business Continuity Plan for WHO Country Office for Nepal reviewed and updated in light of the Nepal earthquake 2015 experience through office-wide engagement

Horizontal Support:

• Support extended to the WHO Country Offices (WCO) of Bhutan, Timor Leste and Sri Lanka with supply of WHO MCKs and hands-on capacity building activities for planning and installation of MCKs
• Technical support extended to WCO Sri Lanka to manage the floods emergency and to WCO Bangladesh to manage the Rohingya crisis through deployment of WCO Nepal WHE staff
• WCO Bhutan supported to successfully mobilize resources from DIPECHO and implement interventions for enhancing emergency preparedness and response readiness of key national, regional and district hospitals; and to organize a exposure visit for a high level government delegation to learn from the earthquake preparedness and response experience of Nepal

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR):

• National AMR Containment Steering Committee supported for successful receipt and implementation of the inception phase grant of the Fleming Fund Country Grant as one of the four Early Investment Countries
• In collaboration with FAO the celebration of the AMR Awareness Week was jointly supported bringing together animal and public health sectors to move the On Health agenda forward
• Comprehensive review of key participating laboratories for AMR surveillance completed
• A competitive proposal jointly drafted with FAO and submitted to obtain the first phase grant of the Fleming Fund Country Grant for Nepal to strengthen and scale up laboratory based surveillance of AMR in the human and animal health sectors