PAHO, WHO focus on improving emergency response in Panama meeting

Health professionals serving on an FMT during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Health professionals serving on an FMT during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. | Courtesy of the WHO
Health organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) met in Panama this week, focusing on measures that facilitate stronger emergency and outbreak response.

Among the topics for discussion were the formation of foreign medical teams (FMT) and ensuring that teams receive the appropriate amount of training and development. During the meeting, participants discussed what the technical and legal requirements are in relation to the coordination of international medical response in cases of emergency or an outbreak.

"The response of foreign medical teams in emergencies is critical, and the teams must meet international standards of ethics and technical quality," Ciro Ugarte, director of PAHO's Department of Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief, said. "The main goal of the medical teams' work is to save lives, prevent disabilities and protect the health of people facing an emergency, so mechanisms must be strengthened to ensure that these standards are met."

Also in attendance were organizations tasked with forming these teams, made up of medical and support personnel. According to the report, FMTs typically originate from governmental or military agencies.

PAHO stated that each region of WHO member states will be engaged in implementing measures that would allow capacity in crucial performance areas for FMTs to grow. The organization reported that partnerships between countries and agencies will also play an important role. 

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Pan American Health Organization

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