Increased technical capacity in areas of forensic
Within hours of the tsunami, a WHO Tsunami Task Force
medicine, psycho social care, epidemiology, and
was established and a 24 hour Operations Room activated
migrant health and disaster preparedness and re 
in the regional Office (New Delhi).  WHO facilitated
logistics, restored medical supply chains, and help set
up surveillance systems to monitor any possible outbreak
Lessons Learnt:  WHO s Experience
of disease. One of WHO s most important roles was
It was recognized at various country level meetings
assisting the health authorities in coordination of the
and at an international meeting to discuss health
work of hundreds of health agencies and nongovernmental
aspects of the tsunami in Phuket, Thailand, that the
organization involved in tsunami relief.
lessons from the tsunami, and their implementation,
could lead to significant changes in emergency response
WHO Thailand has since worked closely with the MOPH
systems in the future.  Several key areas were identified
with the development, implementation, monitoring
improvement in health sector response to disasters.
and coordination of disaster relief from the emergency
phase to the rehabilitation phase.
The first was to undertake a prompt assessment
of people s health situation and their needs when
a disaster strikes.  National governments expressed
Government: Ministry of Public Health (MOPH)
the desire to strengthen their capacity to address
health issues in disaster risk management and
vulnerability reduction.
Based on assessments carried out in collaboration with
Increased funding is also needed to support the
the government, the Ministry of Public Health developed
health elements of disaster preparedness and
a work plan for the Tsunami Recovery process.  In this
vulnerability reduction.
context, WHO has funded over 30 projects, including:
Application of standardized methods was another
Strengthening expertise in disaster preparedness
important area.
including engineering aspects in building hospi 
The need for a single, integrated response system,
tals and health settings
and the importance of coordination, was also
Strengthening disease surveillance and response
Psychological care and mental health support
Updated and evidence based guidance, and well
(particularly in the long term psychological effects
functioning professional networks to help improve
of disaster on children)
response to specific problems faced by crisis affected
Development of environmental health, health pro 
populations, was also considered important.
motion, care and treatment services
The clear message that came out is that to respond
Documentation and sharing of experience.
effectively to any disaster, preparedness is essential.
Countries that had a better health infrastructure
were able to respond better.
Prevention of disease epidemic
Establishment of the Mental Health Centre and
The experiences in Thailand underscore the value of
training programmes for health volunteers
written and rehearsed disaster plans, capacity for rapid
Revised Guidelines for emergency health manage 
mobilization, local coordination of relief activities, and
ment and preparedness in Thailand
active public health surveillance.
Strengthened public health infrastructure
Improved information systems
Increased capacity building of technical special 
ists in all facets of emergency preparedness

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