Why is this important?
One of the central lessons from the Ebola health crisis – which killed more than 11 000 people – was the urgent need to improve capacities to provide medical assistance swiftly when needed. Against the backdrop of this devastating epidemic, European countries have come together under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to set up the European Medical Corps (EMC), which aims to provide a rapid European response to emergencies with health consequences both inside and outside Europe.
What are we doing?
The European Medical Corps will significantly increase the availability of doctors and medical equipment in response to emergencies, and allow for better response planning and preparations.
Officially launched on in February 2016, the European Medical Corps is part of the European Emergency Response Capacity, also known as the voluntary pool of assets of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
The European Emergency Response Capacity pools together specialised teams and equipment offered voluntarily by EU Member States for disaster response operations. Member States pre-commit the assets so that they are ready to be deployed as soon as an emergency arises.
Member States’ contributions
The European Medical Corps brings together ready-for-deployment health emergency assets. By March 2016, nine Member States (Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden) have contributed with specialised medical teams, field hospitals, mobile laboratories, medical evacuation capacities and logistical support teams.
Types of assistance
The European Medical Corps teams can be mobilised for any type of emergency with health consequences, at short notice and when needed.
When a disaster strikes, public health teams can be deployed to assess the situation and needs, analyse the public health risk, advise on response measures, or carry out specific tasks (such as vaccination campaigns and training). Specific types of assistance include mobile biosafety laboratories, medical evacuation capacities (available both for European citizens and humanitarian workers deployed to a crisis area), and logistical support.
Emergency medical teams are able to provide direct medical care to the populations affected by a disaster. To do so, they have to meet the standards set up by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for international deployments.
To become part of the European Medical Corps, specialised teams undergo a joint EU-WHO certification process to make sure that they meet quality standards and that they are trained to work within an international coordination framework.
The European Medical Corps is Europe's main contribution to the Global Health Emergency Workforce set up under the helm of WHO.