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(2019; 42 pages)
History of the Interagency Emergency Health Kit
The Interagency Emergency Health Kit (IEHK) was first developed in 1990. Since its inception it has been revised several times to better fit the changing needs of various emergency situations and the health profiles of affected populations. The last revision was conducted in 2011 and incorporated content to better address mental health and special needs of children. The malaria and post-exposure prophylaxis modules were further reviewed in 2015. The revision of the IEHK 2017 has followed the same process as was used in 2011, involving several expert consultations with representatives from different partner agencies. The World Health Organization (WHO) acts as the Secretariat for coordination of updates of the kit. The IEHK has been widely accepted and used to respond to various emergencies. It is one of the most popular emergency health kits available and has been benchmarked for the development of other health kits.
Principles behind the Interagency Emergency Health Kit 2017
The IEHK 2017 is designed principally to meet the priority health needs of a population affected by emergencies, who have limited access to routine health care services. The kit is designed primarily for “life-saving” purposes, not for health conditions requiring continued care. Given its use in emergency situations, the IEHK fills immediate medical gaps; it does not aim to replace existing medical supply chain mechanisms.
The kit contains essential drugs, supplies and equipment to be used for a limited period of time and target a defined number of people. Some of the medicines and medical devices contained in the kit may not be appropriate for all cultures and countries, or every kind of emergency. This is inevitable as it is a standardized emergency kit, designed for worldwide use, which is pre-packed and kept ready for immediate dispatch.
The kit and its modules are not intended as re-supply kits and, if used as such, may result in the accumulation of items and medicines which are not needed.
It must be emphasized that, although supplying medicines and medical devices in standard pre-packed kits is convenient early in an emergency, specific local needs must be assessed as soon as possible and further supplies must be ordered accordingly. Therefore, once basic health care services have been established, the health care coordinator should assess primary health care needs and re-order medicines, renewable medical devices and medical equipment based on consumption of these items. All efforts should be made to strengthen or develop a medical supplies logistics management information system that can enable appropriate quantification and stock management as soon as the emergency situation stabilizes.