New project launched in Tajikistan to manage mass casualties in a disaster

WHO/Rahima Mukairshoeva

A new project "Improving Mass Casualty Management in Tajikistan" has been launched to strengthen the management of a large number of casualties in the event of a disaster (Mass Casualty Management, or MCM). The first project-related roundtable meeting, on 4 July 2012, brought physicians from the Ministry of Health together with staff from the Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defense, along with fire services and police staff from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to assess current MCM practices in the country. 

The 18-month project is coordinated by WHO/Europe with support from the European Commission's Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection Directorate General (ECHO) and its disaster preparedness programme (DIPECHO) for central Asia and Caucasus. The project aims at enhancing the capacity of the Government of Tajikistan to reduce the impact of mass casualty incidents (MCI) through a better management of victims. The project will directly involve over 250 medical providers and rescuers and will impact country-wide MCI response effectiveness.

Background

When a disaster strikes, most lives are lost or saved in the immediate aftermath of the event, depending on the ability of health systems to provide life-saving services in the most timely and efficient manner. Large numbers of injured and otherwise affected people can quickly overwhelm local emergency medical services' capacity to respond and provide care.

Increasing the functional readiness of the health system is highly cost effective in decreasing the impact of a disaster on human and economic resources. This can be achieved through a well-planned and coordinated approach to disasters which would result in more lives saved, less post-disaster disabilities and an overall growth of hospital safety. 

WHO/Europe will provide continued technical assistance in planning, training and practice, targeting pre-hospital providers and rescuers, hospital staff and system managers in MCM, in areas such as triage systems and an incident command system involving national authorities. The 4 July roundtable will be followed by several planning exercises during the course of the project.