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European Medical Corps for emergencies

Brussels, 15 February 2016

The European Union today launches the European Medical Corps to help mobilise medical and public health teams and equipment for emergencies inside and outside the EU

Through the European Medical Corps, EU Member States and other European countries participating in the system can make medical teams and assets available for rapid deployment before an emergency strikes – thus ensuring a faster and more predictable response. The medical corps could include emergency medical teams, public health and medical coordination experts, mobile biosafety laboratories, medical evacuation planes and logistical support teams.

"The aim of the European Medical Corps is to create a much faster and more efficient EU response to health crises when they occur. We need to learn the lessons from the Ebola response; a key difficulty was mobilising medical teams. I thank all the Member States that have already contributed so far, and encourage others to join so the EU's response will be able to meet increasing needs and will allow for better planning and preparation before any disaster." said Commissioner Christos Stylianides who is hosting today's high-level inauguration event in Brussels.

The framework for the European Medical Corps is part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism's new European Emergency Response Capacity (otherwise known as the 'voluntary pool'). So far Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands have already committed teams and equipment to the voluntary pool.

 

Background

A key difficulty during the Ebola virus outbreak response was the quick deployment of medical staff, as well as the logistical and management challenges which increased as a result. This led Germany and France in late 2014 to propose the "White Helmets" initiative, which laid the foundations. The European Medical Corps is now part of the European Emergency Response Capacity.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates cooperation in disaster response among 33 European states (28 EU Member States, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro, Norway and Serbia). Turkey is also in the process of joining the Mechanism. These participating states pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of assistance inside and outside the European Union. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the Emergency Response Coordination Centre.

In an effort to step up the EU's preparedness and response to disasters, the European Emergency Response Capacity ('voluntary pool') was created in 2014, bringing together a range of pre-committed relief teams and equipment, for deployment in emergency response operations all over the world.

The European Medical Corps will also be Europe's contribution to the Global Health Emergency Workforce being set up under the helm of the World Health Organisation.

The European Union has set up a European Medical Corps (EMC) through which teams and equipment from the EU Member States can be rapidly deployed.

1. What is the European Medical Corps?

 The European Union has set up a European Medical Corps (EMC) through which teams and equipment from the EU Member States can be rapidly deployed to provide medical assistance and public health expertise in response to emergencies inside and outside the EU.

 The Medical Corps is part of the existing European Emergency Response Capacity (also known as Voluntary Pool), established under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. 

2. Why was the European Medical Corps set up?

A key difficulty during the response to the Ebola virus outbreak was to quickly deploy medical staff and deal with logistical and management challenges. This led Germany and France in late 2014 to propose a "White Helmets" initiative, which laid the foundation of the European Medical Corps.

The European Medical Corps will be Europe's contribution to the Global Health Emergency Workforce being set up under the helm of the World Health Organization (WHO). The European Medical Corps will significantly increase the availability of doctors and medical equipment in response to emergencies, and will also allow for better planning and preparations for response to emergencies. 

3. What kinds of equipment will the European Medical Corps include?

The European Medical Corps will include emergency medical and public health teams, mobile biosafety laboratories, medical evacuation capacities, medical assessment and coordination experts and logistical support teams. These teams could be mobilised for any type of emergency with health consequences, at short notice, when needed.

4. Which EU Member States are taking part?

Currently, as of 15 February, nine Member States have already offered teams and equipment to the European Medical Corps (BE, LU, ES, DE, CZ, FR, NL, FI, SE).

Any country participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism can make medical teams and assets available to the European Medical Corps.

5. How can Member States commit to the European Medical Corps?

To be part of the European Medical Corps, teams need to undergo a certification process to ensure they meet strict quality criteria and are trained to work in an international response operation.

In order to meet the criteria, they can benefit from EU financial support.

This support can include:

·         100% financing from the EU budget: adaptation grants for upgrading the teams to an enhanced status of readiness, quality and availability are available

·         Up to 100% or 100% financing from the EU budget for activities related to the certification of teams, including training, exercises and workshops.

Teams may be developed at national or regional level by public authorities or other organisations. Their commitment to the European Medical Corps can only be done by the relevant Member States authorities.

Following a successful certification process, the medical response capacity is registered in the European Medical Corps, and it becomes available for deployment in EU emergency response operations.

Once certified and part of the European Medical Corps teams can benefit for up to 85% for transport grants for deployments of the teams to emergencies

6. How does the European Medical Corps operate during an emergency?

Following a successful certification process, the medical response capacity is registered in the European Medical Corps, and it becomes available for deployment in EU emergency response operations.

The deployment of the medical teams is coordinated by the European Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), the operational hub of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Member States retain the final decision on deployment and can opt out of a mission if necessary.

In the field, teams will be coordinated through the overall coordination platform set up for the situation in question, be it under the leadership of an affected state or under the UN coordination system.

Once a response capacity is registered in the European Medical Corps, it is expected to be available for coordinated EU missions. Having these teams and experts registered in the European Medical Corps will increase the predictability of EU assistance and will allow for better planning and preparation beforehand.

 

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Current discussions

Claudia Gardner (Manchester / UK) - 2 March 2016

 

It would be a good thing if the European Medical Corps dealt with the refugees in the places where they are concentrated. Major diseases may break out, which would endanger European societies.



Λευτέρης Μιχαλογιαννάκης (Ηράκλειο Κρήτης / Ελλάδα) - 3 March 2016

Καλά τα λέει η Claudia. Το Ευρωπαϊκό Ιατρικό Σώμα έκτακτης ανάγκης θα πρέπει να αναλάβει δράση, το γρηγορότερο δυνατόν στους τόπους συγκεντρώσεως των προσφύγων και μεταναστών για να προλάβει το ξέσπασμα σοβαρών ασθενειών για αυτούς και τον ελληνικό πληθυσμό.



Maria Beramandi (Strasbourg / France) - 6 March 2016

Je comprends que la participation au Corps médical européen est à la discrétion de chaque État membre  et  je trouve cela dommage. Il faudrait que tous les États membres soient sensés de participer au CME, avec la possibilité de s’abstenir à titre exceptionnel et motivé, pour que l’UE sache d’avance et en permanence sur qui elle peut compter pour les opérations d’urgence et quels États membres s’abstiennent et pour quelles raisons.



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