1.1. Sectoral coordination

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Coordination among sectors is critical for effective disaster response. This includes coordination among all institutions and organizations that provide health, drinking water, and sanitation services. In the health section, the health sector Emergency Operations Committee is one such vehicle for coordination.

1.1.2. Health Sector Emergency Operations Committee

Under the direction of the leading health authority in each country (health minister or secretary, regional director, etc.), the health sector Emergency Operations Committee is responsible for making decisions and prioritizing needs, establishing mechanisms for the support needed by other sectors and entities, and preparing an action plan to address the emergency, reduce impact, and forestall major health hazards in light of findings from damage assessments and health situation analyses.

In order to function effectively, the health sector Emergency Operations Committee needs the technical support of a situation room. The health situation room is an area where technical experts from various health disciplines analyze information and provide technical feedback to the health Emergency Operations Committee on a timely basis about the nature of existing risks.

Operational and functional structure of the Health Sector Emergency Operations Committee

esturctura operativa funcional v4-Eng


Click here to see a checklist of functions and organizational aspects necessary for ensuring that the health sector Emergency Operations Committee has the organization and elements needed to operate efficiently.

1.1.3. Operation of the health situation room

Health experts can use socio-demographic data on pre-disaster health status of the affected population and epidemiological reporting monitor trends involving diseases, thereby comparing the post-disaster health situation to pre-disaster conditions. This will make it possible to categorize response scenarios according the level of risk: high, medium, or low. Information should be generated in the form of maps and charts to facilitate decisions on where to locate interventions and the type of intervention needed.

The principal products of a health situation room during a crisis are:

  • Data analysis: preparation of maps, diagrams, tables, charts, photographs, and other tools that aid in interpreting the information.
  • Generation of specialized technical information tools (documents, manuals, directives, guidelines, etc.) that are useful for decision-making.
  • Communications: receiving and sending back information.
  • Reports on technical issues, epidemiological data, impact on health and sanitation infrastructure, population shifts, general morbidity and mortality, and other health information.
  • Monitoring of news and rumors.

The health situation room should be installed within 24 hours of the impact of a disaster or when a warning is issued. The information processed should be updated daily, and frequent reports should be produced.