The term "emergency" is applied to various situations resulting from natural, political and economic disasters. The Interagency Emergency Health Kit 2006 (IEHK 2006) is designed to meet the initial primary health care needs of a displaced population without medical facilities, or a population with disrupted medical facilities in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster or during an emergency. It must be emphasized that, although supplying medicines, medical devices (renewable and equipment) 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.
Medicine and medical device needs in the context of an emergency situation
The practical impact of many well-meaning donations and support sent in emergencies has often been diminished because the supplies did not reflect real needs or because requirements were not adequately assessed. Often this resulted in donations of unsorted, unsuitable, inadequately labelled and expired medicines and other medical devices which could not all be used at the receiving end. The Interagency Guidelines for Drug Donations, revised in 1999, describe "good donation practices" and promote the principles necessary for improved quality medicine donations. More detailed information is provided in Annex 8.
Morbidity patterns may vary considerably between emergencies. For example, in emergencies where malnutrition is common, morbidity rates may be very high. For this reason an estimate of medicine requirements can only be approximate, although certain predictions can be made based on previous experience.