FEMAT ready for international deployment

The FEMAT team. Picture: SUPPLIED/FIJI GOVERNMENT

THE World Health Organization (WHO) says Fiji’s Emergency Medical Assistance Team (FEMAT) is ready for international deployment, becoming the first team in the Pacific islands with this unique capability.

Verified as a Type 1 Fixed Emergency Medical Team (EMT), FEMAT is now able to respond domestically and across the Pacific, providing a broad range of medical and emergency services for up to 100 patients a day.

Having passed a comprehensive assessment by WHO in Suva over May 10-11, 2019, with observers from Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines taking part, FEMAT can provide initial emergency care for injuries and other acute health needs.

A Government statement issued at the weekend stated that this capability was tested on May 10, with WHO and observers reviewing a full deployment of FEMAT’s ‘field hospital’, as well as all clinical care services including triage, first aid, patient stabilisation and referral of severe trauma and non-trauma emergencies.

Fiji’s Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete, responsible for FEMAT as a ministry resource, said the verification demonstrated the country’s continuing investment in disaster preparedness and response, especially its commitment to high-quality and rapid health emergency response in Fiji and beyond.

“The Pacific is a hotspot for disasters and emergencies, particularly in the face of a changing climate. FEMAT is a vital tool in ensuring Fijians and our friends across the Pacific are better protected and supported in times of crisis. We are thrilled our investments have been recognised by WHO,” Dr Waqainabete said.

Director of Pacific Technical Support and WHO Representative to the South Pacific Dr Corinne Capuano noted the pressing needs FEMAT would address.

She said with 11 disasters and 26 outbreaks during 2018 in the Pacific, Fiji’s achievement was timely.

“FEMAT is positioned among an elite network of international EMTs that can be rapidly deployed. Their efforts will save lives in Fiji and other Pacific island countries, and is a meaningful example of how a country has leveraged a WHO initiative to strengthen its capacity to respond to health emergencies in Fiji and across the Pacific,” Dr Capuano said.

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes said that now, more than ever, preparedness was important to lessen the impact of disaster on vulnerable populations.

“Australia is pleased to support the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services to assemble and verify a Type 1 Fixed Emergency Medical Team, the first of its kind in the Pacific region,” Mr Feakes said.

“The ministry’s capacity to deploy a fully-fledged field hospital and deliver a broad range of medical services when required, in Fiji or offshore, is an incredible achievement that further cements Fiji’s position as a pioneer within the Pacific.”

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