Emergency Operations

Regional Workshop on Strengthening Health Emergency Operations Centres (HEOCs) for Emergency Response

6-8 November 2017

Health emergency operations centres (HEOCs) are physical or virtual centres responsible for the strategic management of public health emergencies providing support to on-scene response and relief activities. Although the format, structure and size of individual HEOCs vary widely, their role in public health emergency management and response is universally fundamental. HEOCs are becoming more and more recognized as a means for effective national and international collaboration and coordination in preparing for and responding to the increasing occurrence of public health events and emergencies.

In 2012, WHO established the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre Network (EOC-NET) to share current global status and best practices of Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs), document impediments and gaps and inform on the development of guidance and standards for building, maintaining and using HEOCs for response to public health risks and emergencies. WHO has been working with EOC-NET partners in developing guidelines and standards in order to bring uniformity and consistency to EOC functions and components to improve emergency response efforts.

Various activities have been implemented to promote the development of HEOCs in the Ministries of Health of member countries of the South-East Asia Region. There are various levels of function of the HEOCs in the region and different degrees of involvement in response operations in recent emergencies.

In 2015, a regional workshop was organized in New Delhi, India, to strengthen national Health Emergency Operations Centres (HEOCs) and the regional networking for public health emergencies preparedness and response. It was found that countries have diverse compositions of their HEOCs based on their health and disaster management systems.

The current regional workshop will aim to support national counterparts and experts in HEOCs in strengthening the present status of HEOCs in health operations during emergency response. Efforts are already continuing to strengthen the incident management system. The regional meeting would therefore be a good initiative to update Member States on the vital role of HEOCs in the region and to facilitate the strengthening of HEOC operations for emergency response.

Specific objectives of the workshop are:

- To orient participants on newly developed training materials and HEOC resources

- To review the HEOC roles in emergency response

- To review best practices at the global, regional and national levels and

- To recommend activities to support strengthening of HEOCs in the Region