Workshop Develops Hospital Preparedness for Chemical Emergencies

7 December 2018

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 7 December 2018 — Medical administrators learned how to formulate and implement emergency procedures during the first workshop of the newly launched Chemical Incident Preparedness for Hospitals Project (HOSPREP). The workshop, co-organised by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the CBRN Department of the University of Health Sciences in Ankara, ran from 5 9 November in Ankara, Turkey.  

The Head of the Assistance and Protection Branch of the OPCW, Mr Shawn DeCaluwe, expressed that: “Hospitals play a crucial role in the aftermath of a chemical attack.  Not only do they treat contaminated victims, but they also have to deal with questions of public panic and the safety of the medical staff. Keeping hospitals up and running in such circumstances requires forethought and planning.”

According to workshop facilitator and Disaster Medicine Director at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr Paul Biddinger, chemical emergency planning should comprise clear and simple procedures. He noted that such simplified processes are only possible at facilities that have taken the steps to assess vulnerability, develop coherent emergency plans and test the effectiveness of those plans.

The workshop participants included 21 administrators and clinical managers directly involved with the internal policies of hospitals and health care facilities in OPCW Member States.

The programme of the workshop focussed on hospital emergency planning and the specifics of victim decontamination procedures and clinical management as well as on the prevention of secondary contamination of medical personnel.

The workshop further enabled hospital managers and other institutional policymakers from OPCW Member States to more thoroughly assess and address capacity needs at the facility level.

The workshop was supported by experts from the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Disaster Medicine (MGH) and the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina (UNC), with principal funding provided by the Chemical Security Program of the U.S. Department of State in conjunction with CRDF Global.    

Attending the workshop were medical managers from 12 OPCW Member States: Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Uganda.

Background

As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. 

Over 96% of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

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