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This paper aims to clarify how the Project for Strengthening the ASEAN Regional Capacity on Disaster Health Management (ARCH Project) strengthened regional collaboration mechanisms on disaster health management (DHM) in ASEAN.
The political process and the relevant documents of the ARCH Project were reviewed.
The ARCH Project established the Regional Coordination Committee as a coordination platform for providing strategic direction to the project and strengthening the regional coordination of DHM. Also, the Project Working Groups and Sub-Working Groups were set up as implementation bodies for the project activities with representatives of ASEAN Member States (AMS). With support from DHM experts of Japan and Thailand, a series of discussions were conducted for the development of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Coordination of International Emergency Medical Teams (I-EMTs), regional tools, and collective measures supporting AMS to overcome challenges, and thereby meeting the minimum requirements set by the WHO EMT Initiative. The progress and outputs of the ARCH Project are subsequently elevated to the ASEAN Health Sector for endorsement, the updates are further shared to the Joint Task Force to Promote Synergy with Other Relevant ASEAN Bodies on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (JTF-HADR) for the implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN One Response. The initiation of the ARCH Project in July 2016 has resulted in the development of the ASEAN regional collaboration framework, including the establishment of the Regional Coordination Committee on Disaster Health Management (RCCDHM), the SOP for ASEAN I-EMT coordination, and regional tools, such as forms for Medical Record for Emergency and Disaster and Health Needs Assessment. Moreover, further discussions on ASEAN Collective Measures that aim to support AMS to meet the WHO EMT minimum standards and strengthening I-EMT coordination capacity were also conducted. As adopted by the ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting (AHMM) in 2019, the RCCDHM was established as one of the mechanisms to operationalize the Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on DHM.
The contribution of the ARCH Project to strengthen the ASEAN regional capacity in DHM has enhanced the regional coordination platform, with a formalization of RCCDHM as ASEAN’s official regional mechanism, and of the on-going integration process of the SOP for EMT coordination into the ASEAN SASOP.
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