EMT mission conducted in Iran to scale up operational readiness of the country’s health sector



WHO team comprising of experts from Country Office, Region Office and HQ, conducted a mission in Iran from April 22-27, 2017 to assess and assist the country’s Emergency Medical Team (EMT) system with the purpose of strengthening the response capacity across all-hazard emergencies. The mission brought together different stakeholders to discuss the most updated global practices and mechanisms. The current level of capacity of EMT mobilization and deployment was assessed and a roadmap developed to ensure that EMTs get eventually classified by WHO to have reached global practice standards. In addition, areas related to safe hospitals, mass gatherings, chemical and biological preparedness were also discussed during the mission in the pursuit of emergency preparedness and response.

The mission reviewed the Emergency Medical System (EMS) of different stakeholders, particularly the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME) and the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), and discussed the scope for further development within the spectrum of emergency response mechanism of the country. The mission also discussed the optimum linkages of EMS to the country’s existing national response mechanisms including national emergency response framework.

“Iran has  substantial capacity in the form of EMTs with a  pool of volunteers already trained by the MOHME and the IRCS. . We also see expanding logistic capacities in the country which is paramount for achieving the level of self-sufficiency needed in emergencies. This mission also helped us learn about the recent experiences in order to understand the systems and capacity of the country.” said Dr Ian Norton, Manager of the WHO Emergency Medical Teams Initiative.

During the discussion with MOHME and other stakeholders at the EMT workshop, Dr. Qudsia Huda, Team Lead for the Preparedness, Readiness and Capacity Building in WHO EMRO, highlighted the need for revision of the current emergency preparedness and response plan of the country taking into consideration the recommendations of EMT mission that will ensure standardized sustainable capacity development for emergency response in order to reduce the health risks in communities. ‘This capacity also can be used in neighbouring countries within the auspices of IHR implementation’- she added.  

Iran is a disaster prone country in terms of both natural and man-made events. Since the devastating Bam earthquake, the country has moved forward substantially in developing the national capacities for all hazard emergency response with a sustainable risk management approach. The EMS has been institutionalized in the MOHME with the involvement of other key health sector partners including the IRCS. The EMS is still a growing system to reach out to the communities in different provinces prone to different types of hazards.

Speaking at the concluding session of the workshop, Dr. Sameen Siddiqi, Head of WHO Country Office Iran reiterated the need for a coordinated inter-agency approach to health emergency response operations under the leadership of the MOHME. He further highlighted the need to map the EMTs in the country and develop training programs that are tailored to their needs.  Dr.Siddiqi also stated that “WHO within the scope of its recent reform will be able to provide the support required to implement the priority activities to strengthen the EMT system in the country”.