14 May 2019

Fiji develops Pacific's first Emergency Medical Team

9:07 pm on 14 May 2019

Fiji has developed the Pacific's first Emergency Medical Team to be verified by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

FEMAT's field hospital.

FEMAT's field hospital. Photo: Fiji Government

Fiji's Emergency Medical Assistance Team (FEMAT) is capable of deploying a fully functioning clinic anywhere in the Pacific within 24 to 72 hours of a disaster occurring.

The team includes four doctors, 11 nurses, a pharmacist, an environmental specialist and three logisticians.

In full operation mode it can provide international standard emergency healthcare to up to 100 patients a day.

FEMAT passed a comprehensive assessment by WHO in Suva this month with observers from Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines taking part.

Its capability was tested on 10 May, with a full deployment of FEMAT's field hospital.

Sean Casey from the WHO's Pacific office said achieving this capability was significant for such a disaster prone region.

"This should cut the time that it will take to respond nationally and within the Pacific pretty dramatically," Mr Casey said.

"The team members are all Fijian, they understand the contexts nationally and within the Pacific and so they are really ready to work in any kind of context they may be deployed to nationally or within the Pacific," he said.

"So it is culturally appropriate, contextually appropriate and really built for a Pacific disaster response."

The WHO is also working with other Pacific countries to develop their own Emergency Medical Teams, Mr Casey said.