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A prepared and well-trained workforce is essential to reducing the loss of lives from health emergencies. However, it is uncertain what should be included in the common set of core competencies for the health emergency and disaster risk management (Health EDRM) workforce. The objective of the study is to provide evidence mapping for the competencies in existing professional development programs and courses in Health EDRM.
A survey conducted using an online platform (Survey Monkey) was conducted from October to November 2021. Experts in the Health EDRM Research Network including experts identified for the Delphi studies were invited to join the study. Participants should be ≥ 18 years of age, and had relevant experience in Health EDRM and in disaster education and training programs. A self designed questionnaire containing 28 questions in four domains including competencies; curriculum; evidence gaps; work and personal details were used.
There were 65 respondents from 20 countries participating in the survey. Most of the respondents worked in academic institutions (60%), followed by government employees (19%), and non-governmental organizations (7%). These organizations have roles throughout the disaster cycle with 95% in the preparedness phase. For management skills, EDRM managers should be competent in planning, organizing, applying management processes, establishing effective communication systems and providing effective leadership. For technical competencies, emergency communications, hazard specific knowledge, communicable diseases were essential for frontline workers. In terms of designing the competency matrix, WHO resources were frequently used for the competencies and the curriculum design.
Health EDRM managers are expected to master a large number of managerial and technical skills, including the increasingly recognized leadership and decision-making skills for effective planning and implementation. These competencies need to be established for the development of a Health EDRM workforce.
WHO Thematic Platform for Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management Research Network (Health EDRM RN) is a global expert network, launched in 2018, aiming to strengthen the scientific evidence for managing health risks associated with all types of emergencies and disasters, and to foster global collaboration among academia, government officials and other stakeholders. The Health EDRM RN’s activities are in line with WHO Health EDRM Framework, which support Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
Health EDRM RN’s strategic direction is discussed and advised by its Core Group that consists of focal points of WHO HQ responsible unit, all six Regional Offices, WHO Center for Health Development (Secretariat), RN co-chairs, and key external stakeholders. Based on the strategic direction, the Secretariat facilitates global, regional, and local collaborative activities with the RN participants and partners. As of 2022, over 250 global experts participate in the network.
Following the results of the Core Group Meeting in 2019, 2020 and 2021, multiple activities and results were generated including the identification of five Health EDRM key research areas. WHO Guidance on Research Methods for Health EDRM developed in collaboration with over 150 global experts, initiation of the project to establish WHO Health EDRM Knowledge Hub for developing WHO Health EDRM Research Agenda and aligning with UNDRR research agenda on thematic areas including developing a special supplement on mid-term review of Sendai Framework implementation in health. The 2022 Core Group Meeting, held on October 27, 2022, agreed to promote knowledge dissemination and implementation research for better outputs for regions and countries.
WHO Health EDRM RN will continue its unique function as the platform of global experts and stakeholders to produce, disseminate, and apply knowledge. Participation and engagement by more and broader experts are expected.
Health workforce development is essential for achieving the goals of an effective health system, as well as establishing national Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management (Health EDRM).
The objective of this Delphi consensus study was to identify strategic recommendations for strengthening the workforce for Health EDRM in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and high-income countries (HIC).
A total of 31 international experts were asked to rate the level of importance (one being strongly unimportant to seven being strongly important) for 46 statements that contain recommendations for strengthening the workforce for Health EDRM. The experts were divided into a LMIC group and an HIC group. There were three rounds of rating, and statements that did not reach consensus (SD ≥ 1.0) proceeded to the next round for further ranking.
In total, 44 statements from the LMIC group and 34 statements from the HIC group attained consensus and achieved high mean scores for importance (higher than five out of seven). The components of the World Health Organization (WHO) Health EDRM Framework with the highest number of recommendations were “Human Resources” (n = 15), “Planning and Coordination” (n = 7), and “Community Capacities for Health EDRM” (n = 6) in the LMIC group. “Policies, Strategies, and Legislation” (n = 7) and “Human Resources” (n = 7) were the components with the most recommendations for the HIC group.
The expert panel provided a comprehensive list of important and actionable strategic recommendations on workforce development for Health EDRM.