Adapted from "Redacción Médica" (27 April 2016)

Key mechanism to save lives and ensure rapid assistance to victims

Ciro Ugarte, M.D., PAHO/WHOEcuador is the first country to implement World Health Organization (WHO) international standards to manage national and international emergency medical teams, "which has been key to saving lives and ensuring rapid and effective assistance to victims of the earthquake," according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Ecuadorian authorities asked the international community to send trained and self-sufficient medical teams, according to international standards, to arrange their arrival and deployment, and so that they can provide quick and effective response to the victims in the affected areas.

Ecuador Activated the Emergency Medical Teams Information and Coordination Unit, to coordinate the mobilization, operation of medical teams, and, particularly, the registration of offers that met minimum international requirements established by WHO.

The deployment of 28 national medical teams has been coordinated through this mechanism. These were made up of orthopedic surgeons, emergency physicians, surgeons, other specialists, nurses and psychologists. In addition, five international teams, from Germany, Colombia, Spain, United States and Peru, were also deployed.

Ciro Ugarte, Director of PAHO/WHO's Department of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief, said that the response of the international medical teams in emergency situations is key and should be governed by international standards of technical quality.

"Saving lives, preventing disability and protecting the health of those affected by an emergency is the primary goal of the work of these medical teams, so it is essential to follow these standards," he said.

WHO's international standards for International Medical Teams aim to manage the arrival and deployment of medical teams.