Humanitarian Health Action

Purpose statements for panels and sessions

WHO Conference on the Health Aspects of the Tsunami Disaster in Asia


Panel 2.15: Civil-military cooperation in humanitarian health action

Background

The Tsunami disaster in Asia was characterized by extra-ordinary cooperation between civil and military relief efforts. This interaction was greatly facilitated by the establishment of the Combined Support Force 536 at the Royal Thai Air Base U-tapao and the staffing of the United Nations cell with a Civil Military Liaison Officer from WHO. These efforts culminated in the Health Assessment Missions where military sea-based assets flew WHO led multi-agency teams to 24 internally-displaced peoples (IDP) camps in Aceh province, Indonesia where an estimated 500,000 people were at risk of outbreak of communicable diseases. No widespread outbreaks occurred and the continuous flow of information gathered during the missions helped address immediate health concerns, such as directing limited measles vaccine to where it was most needed. For the longer term, the health assessment missions helped guide relief efforts from those based on estimated need ("push") to those based on actual need ("pull"). Given the success of this civil military interaction, it could prove useful to all concerned that guidelines for specific civil military cooperation on health be drafted.

Key questions

How does effective civil-military cooperation in humanitarian health action help address the key questions of:

  • needs assessment?
  • coordination?
  • filling gaps in provision of available services?
  • capacity building?

What is the perspective on each of the above topics regarding:

  • appropriateness, adequacy, effectiveness, efficiency, and connectedness?

What was done well and what could have been done better?

What are the conclusions and recommendations on strengthening the future health response in civil-military cooperation in humanitarian health action to disasters?

What are the best coordination mechanisms for civil-military cooperation in humanitarian health action?

What are the suggested additions and improvement to the draft guidelines for civil-military cooperation in humanitarian health action?

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