South Korea builds public health emergency response capacity

News Hour:

An international seminar to strengthen the public health emergency response capacity of South Korean humanitarian workers took place in Seoul today, bringing together 50 participants from the government, medical institutions, universities, civil society and donor agencies.

The Public Health Emergency Response Seminar, co-hosted by IOM Seoul and the Korean Parliamentary Forum for Global Health, was created to address the capacity building needs of medical practitioners in the Republic of Korea (ROK).

It focused on international cooperation during public health emergencies and shared lessons learned from the field – notably the 2013-2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the Syrian crisis, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the Nepal earthquake.

The seminar was part of IOM Seoul’s capacity building project funded by the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). Keynote speakers included Dr. Jolene Nakao, who led OFDA’s Disaster Assistance Response Team during the Ebola outbreak, and Dr. Teresa Zakaria, who headed IOM’s Ebola response team.

“Through sharing OFDA and IOM’s know-how and expertise from the field, I hope this seminar will prepare South Korean medical staff to provide more effective medical assistance during emergencies and contribute to alleviating suffering and saving more lives,” said IOM Seoul Head of Office Miah Park.

The need for a public health response in various types of disaster has sharply increased due to the growing number of emergencies requiring medical support. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa showed that the international community must work together and build capacity to deal with worldwide public health threats.

ROK dispatched Emergency Medical Response Teams to West Africa on three occasions during the Ebola outbreak, demonstrating the country’s will to take its place with the donor community during global medical emergencies.

Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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