|The New Emergency Health Kit 10.000 (WHO)|
In recent years the various organizations and agencies of the United Nations system have been called upon to respond to an increasing number of large-scale emergencies and disasters, many of which pose a serious threat to health. Much of the assistance provided in such situations by donor agencies, governments, voluntary organizations and others is in the form of drugs and medical supplies. But the practical impact of this aid is often diminished because requests do not reflect the real needs or because these have not been adequately assessed. This can result in donations of unsorted, unsuitable and unintelligibly labelled drugs, or the provision of products which have passed their expiry date. Such problems are often compounded by delays in delivery and customs clearance.
The World Health Organization, which is the directing and coordinating authority for international health work within the United Nations system, took up the question of how emergency response could be facilitated. After several years of study, field testing and modifications, standard lists of essential drugs and medical supplies for use in an emergency were developed. The aim was to encourage the standardization of drugs and medical supplies used in an emergency to permit a swift and effective response with supplies that meet priority health needs. A further goal was to promote disaster preparedness since such standardization means that kits of essential items can be kept in readiness to meet urgent requirements.
The WHO Emergency Health Kit, which resulted from this work, was originally developed in collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It has now been revised in collaboration between the Action Programme on Essential Drugs (WHO, Geneva), the Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit (WHO, Geneva), the unit of Pharmaceuticals (WHO, Geneva), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, Médecins sans Frontières, the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Geneva), the Christian Medical Commission of the World Council of Churches and the International Committee of the Red Cross. A review of the experience of previous users of the kit, prepared by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as well as field experience of UNICEF and Médecins sans Frontières, were also considered during the revision. Major suppliers of the kit were consulted on the specifications of its contents.
The kit has now been adopted by many organizations and national authorities as a reliable, standardized, inexpensive, appropriate and quickly available source of the essential drugs and health equipment urgently needed in a disaster situation. Its contents are calculated to meet the needs of a population of 10,000 persons for three months. It has been renamed "The New Emergency Health Kit" because of the number and diversity of United Nations agencies and other bodies which have adopted this list of drugs and medical supplies for their emergency operations and which participated in its revision.
This booklet provides background information on the development of the kit, a description of its contents, comments on the selection of items, treatment guidelines for prescribers, and some useful checklists for suppliers and prescribers. Chapter 1 (Essential drugs and supplies in emergency situations) is intended as a general introduction for health administrators and field officers. Chapter 2 (Comments on the selection of drugs, medical supplies and equipment included in the kit) contains more technical details and is intended for prescribers.
Publication of this document was made possible by financial contributions received from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Government of the Netherlands, the WHO Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit and the WHO Action Programme on Essential Drugs.