RITM emergency responders join MSF training
In photo: Jose Paulo Merilles (RITM Health Emergency Management Office) and Dr. Annabelle Sucuano (RITM Surveillance and Response Unit) amongst international responders in MSF crisis management simulation. Photo courtesy of JP Merilles.

RITM Health Emergency Management Officer Jose Paulo Merilles and Dr. Annabelle Sucuano of the RITM Surveillance and Response Unit joined international crisis responders in the Mѐdѐcins Sans Frontiers (MSF) Regional Emergency Response Training on June 10 to 17, 2019 at Hanoi, Vietnam.

MSF, also known as Doctors without Borders, brought together national representatives directly involved in disaster management and surveillance in Southeast and South Asian regions, to enhance the regions’ strategic decision-making skills during emergencies.

Joined by two more Philippine delegates from the Office of Civil Defense, Merilles and Sucuano were trained through simulations of actual crisis situations such as the Rohingya refugee camps.

RITM may adopt MSF’s development strategy of a site plan for tent units or hospital set up in case of surges of patients or major structural collapse,” suggests Merilles, noting that use of indicators and thresholds is important in planning for structural, nonstructural, and functional elements to ensure that RITM’s health facility can withstand and remain operational during emergencies.

In 2018, the Philippines ranked third on the risk index of disaster prone countries on a report of  the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security. With the country’s vulnerability to cyclones, earthquakes, floods, landslides, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, RITM has been implementing preparedness programs to prepare for health concerns that may arise during these emergencies.

Merilles said that RITM continuously prioritizes capacity development, risk management, prevention, and mitigation for an effective response to emergencies and disasters.

Everyone has a significant role before, during, and after any emergencies and disasters, and therefore we need to encourage our people to be capacitated on emergency response,” ends Merilles.