Emergency Medical Teams

The evaluation of the "Health response to the earthquake in Haiti (2010)" showed that, although the response was significant and medical teams were present and saved many lives, there were also many of them that were not prepared or were even incompetent for the kind of medical care required by the patients. The publication of Haiti´s learned lessons for future responses demonstrated the need to develop principles, criteria and standards for medical teams that respond to emergencies and disasters, in line with global processes to improve humanitarian guidelines and standards.

In this context, the Pan American Health Organization convened a meeting of experts in Cuba, from 7-9 December 2010, to, among others, review the "Guidelines for the Use of Foreign Field Hospitals in the Aftermath of Sudden-Impact Disasters", published by PAHO/WHO in 2003, and streamline the request, acceptance and coordination processes for international medical teams. The purpose was improving the speed of response and efficiency in deployment. The group of experts prepared a report of the meeting, which is the basis of the initiative known today as "Emergency Medical Teams."

PAHO's Directing Council, made up of representatives from Member States, approved the "Plan of Action for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance in the Americas", at its 53rd session. The plan considers the implementation in Member States of response procedures and flexible national registration mechanisms for Emergency Medical Teams.