WHO/Europe has been working in disaster preparedness and response in Georgia since August 2008 in response to  the crisis in South Ossetia.

As the lead agency of the health thematic group and its subgroups for nutritional and mental health and psychosocial support, WHO has chaired and conducted regular coordination meetings. These meetings created a forum for local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), donor organizations, Georgian authorities and other interested parties to discuss their health-related work for internally displaced people (IDPs) and identify gaps in medical service provision and to avoid duplication of activities.

WHO regularly visited the new IDP settlements and at the work sites of the partner organizations to ensure the access and quality of medical care. In 2009, with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and health partners, WHO facilitated an assessment of the mental health and psychosocial support needs of the conflict-affected populations.

In response to pandemic (H1N1) 2009, the WHO Country Office, Georgia regularly disseminated updates, WHO guidelines and recommendations. More than 3500 prevention posters were translated into Georgian, printed and distributed among health care and educational facilities countrywide.

Moreover, the WHO emergency task force for Georgia has been working closely with the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs to strengthen disaster preparedness and response capacities and coordination mechanisms. WHO is also an active member of the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in the area of disaster management as well as of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) working group on disaster risk reduction.

Recently WHO/Europe focused on:

National public health and emergency management (PHEM) course

Three national PHEM trainings were carried out between 2008-10 and representatives from the Ministry of Health participated in two regional  PHEM courses.

The implementation  and translation into Georgian of a national version of the PHEM course was conducted. It was based on the regional WHO/Europe PHEM course, while incorporating the country’s specific needs and concerns.

Health facility strengthening

Strengthening the resilience and safety of the country’s health facilities to ensure that they continue to function in the event of a disaster included assessing the resilience of selected key health facilities using the WHO Hospital Safety Index. Based on this analysis, a work plan was developed, containing interventions to improve the safety of the facilities, and a workshop on hospital safety was conducted.