Determining guidelines for Foreign Medical Team deployments and streamlining protocols for assistance in major disasters will dominate discussions when Australia and Indonesia co-chair the second East Asia Summit (EAS) Rapid Disaster Response Workshop in Bali this week.
“Every government in our region has different protocols and administrative arrangements that need to be followed to ensure that disaster relief is effective,” Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said.
“Our challenge is to make asking for assistance as easy as possible for disaster-affected countries so they can receive the support and assistance they need when they need it.
“The workshop will consider and review the draft EAS Rapid Disaster Response Toolkit, developed by Australia. Once finalised, the Toolkit will serve as a comprehensive one-stop-shop for all EAS countries, for both sending and receiving international assistance.
“Australia and our regional partners have learnt from our experiences, most recently in Tacloban in the Philippines, that the medical support deployed must meet the needs of the disaster affected country,” Mr Keenan said.
“The countries will focus on the World Health Organisation’s draft guidelines for Foreign Medical Team deployments – which were utilised in the multi-national response to Typhoon Haiyan.
“In times of national emergency, countries need to know how many doctors, nurses and other medical specialists will be deployed to the disaster impacted region,” Mr Keenan said.
The workshop brings together emergency management, health and foreign affairs delegates from 16 of the 18 EAS countries. The World Health Organization, the Association of South East Asian Nations Secretariat, the UN International Search and Rescue Advisory Group, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance are also attending. This forum builds on the first EAS Australia-Indonesia Rapid Disaster Response Workshop, held in Darwin in September 2013.
“Australia is very pleased to be working with Indonesia to improve disaster response in the East Asia region. Our expertise in emergency response is widely respected and we can also learn from the experiences of our regional partners. The Australian Government recognises the importance of building strong relationships to improve disaster response,” Mr Keenan said.