The first cohort of WHO-trained emergency medical teams (EMT) provides critical support to the drought emergency response in Somali Region, Ethiopia
In April 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Emergency Medical Teams (EMT) Training Centre was officially inaugurated by Dr Matshidiso Moeti WHO Regional Director for Africa, and Honorable Dr Lia Tadesse Minister of Health (MoH), Ethiopia in the presence of Dr Abdou Salam Gueye, Regional Emergency Director, and Dr Boureima Hama Sambo, WHO Representative in Ethiopia. The training centre has since trained over 100 cohorts of emergency medical teams (EMTs) from different parts of the country.
In June 2022, 17-member EMT that were trained by the EMT centre were deployed to Gode, a town in the Somali Regional State, for the team’s first mission to provide clinical care to people affected by drought, and to support the local health system. After receiving pre-deployment orientation from WHO, MoH and the Somali Regional Health Bureau, the emergency medical team composed of general practitioner physicians, pediatricians, nurses, and nutritionists took up the responsibility of supporting the emergency response in Gode for 21 days.
During their deployment, the team executed several clinical activities including managing severe acute malnutrition with medical complications at the stabilization center, screening and admission of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) cases patients into Targeted Supplementary Feeding services.
During their three-week deployment, the team conducted nutritional screening of 211 children at IDP sites and Gode Hospital, and admitted about 100 children with severe acute malnutrition to the stabilization center at the Hospital. The team closely followed up the patients at the stabilization centre, and conducted two rounds of screening daily for 3 weeks. Ninety children showed improvement under their care and were discharged during the same period.
“We’re proud of our team’s well-coordinated engagement for a successful response. We request our partners’ long-term sustainable support for the continued impact of the team. We have set the foundation for the future.” Degisew Dersso said, Surge and clinical Disaster management coordinator, EMT Coordinator and Conflict Response IMS-Acute care and clinical Section Lead.
The team also provided training and health education to mothers whose children were admitted to the stabilization center and IDP sites. The education focused mainly on breastfeeding, complementary feeding, environmental and hand hygiene, appropriate feeding practice and detecting signs of severe acute malnutrition.
The Ethiopian EMT also provided training to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) staff at Gode Hospital on essential relevant skills to operate a mechanical ventilator, provision of basic life support, critical care, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), medical crash cart handling and documentation. In addition, the team handled some minor maintenance and repair tasks to on medical equipment in the hospital.
The structure of the Ethiopian EMT core technical team is linked with the routine health system and coordinated with the Ministry of Health National Incident Management System. The technical team leads were recruited from WHO and MoH. Following two local and one international EMT induction training with simulation exercises, 70 volunteer members were put on standby for emergency response.
The global EMT initiative aims to improve the timeliness and quality of health services provided by national and international EMTs and enhance the capacity of national health systems to lead the activation and coordination of emergency response in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, outbreak and other emergencies.