Health Emergency Facility
UNICEF and partners are developing an innovative Health Emergency Facility which can be rapidly deployed to provide screening, isolation and essential care during disease outbreaks, preventing deadly epidemics from spreading further.
In recent years multiple crises have quickly overwhelmed health care systems, leaving them unable to cope with the sudden surge in patients, let alone provide essential primary health care.
The Ebola outbreaks, cholera outbreaks and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the urgent need for rapidly deployable surge health facilities to provide screening, isolation and treatment of patients in the event of a major disease outbreak. This will ultimately prevent the further spread of deadly epidemics.
UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are developing a Health Emergency Facility which can be rapidly deployed and equipped in the event of future disease outbreaks.
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many ad-hoc health facilities took months to plan, install and operationalize. The new facilities will be designed to be set up in just weeks, with speed critical to help prevent a major infectious disease outbreak from spreading further.
Existing surge health care facilities can take 2-3 months to design, procure and operationalize.
The new Health Emergency Facility will be able to be designed and ordered within hours.
With prepositioning in regional hubs, new facilities will be able to be set up and provide essential care within weeks.
The Health Emergency Facility
The Health Emergency Facility will include everything needed to set up a screening, isolation and treatment centre in the event of an outbreak, from the physical structure to the medical equipment and medicines, to electricity and water supply.
Using guidelines and a digital planning tool, programme and supply managers will be able to identify, configure and customize health facilities from multiple pre-designed layouts for various disease outbreaks. The tool will generate procurement lists including all components needed to operationalize a health care facility, with items able to be easily ordered through the UNICEF, WHO and MSF supply catalogues.
The needs of children and women will guide the design of facilities, including the use of colours, safe spaces for play and breastfeeding, and transparent isolation rooms so separated family members can see each other.
With epidemics occurring more often and spreading faster and further than ever, having a rapidly deployable Health Emergency Facility available will help prevent small disease outbreaks from becoming global pandemics, potentially saving millions of lives.
Once available, UNICEF aims to use the Health Emergency Facility in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also preparing for the future health crises.
This initiative will help prevent existing heath systems from being overwhelmed by the vast increase of patients during an outbreak. It will also help ensure UNICEF, governments, UN partners and MSF will be better equipped to respond rapidly in sudden onset emergencies and ensure children and their families can receive the urgent health care they need.