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Strengthening Health Sector Resilience to CBRN Emergencies in the Middle East and North Africa: Analysing Insights from Disaster Management Experts

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conference contribution
submitted on 2024-05-16, 10:59 and posted on 2024-05-26, 06:33 authored by Hassan Farhat, Guillaume Alinier, Mariana Helou, Nidaa Bajow, Nicholas Castle, Walid Abougalala, Loua Al-Shaikh, James Laughton, Mohamed Ben Dhiab

Background

Though rare, CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear) emergencies pose a significant threat to public health and can escalate into cross-border crises. These risks are amplified in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region due to industrial advancements and rising conflicts. Hence, beyond the provision of educational workshops aimed at frontline clinical staff, fortifying the health sector’s preparedness for CBRN emergencies in this region becomes imperative. Previous work has explored paramedic staff perception of Qatar’s pre-hospital system readiness to respond to CBRN incidents, but concentrating on a single country may not be sufficient to deal with larger-scale disasters and may not be indicative of the neighboring countries’ readiness. This study explored international disaster management experts’ perspectives regarding collaborative efforts within the MENA healthcare sector to effectively address CBRN threats.

Methods

A modified interview approach was employed using the Phonic® application to gather insights from disaster medicine experts based in the MENA region. The data were subsequently analyzed using thematic analysis and inductive coding using the NVivo12 software.

Results

Out of 92 experts initially approached, 35 consented to take part in the study, with data saturation reached at 29 responses. Five themes emerged: the looming threat of CBRN? related incidents, the necessity for better mass gathering management, inadequacies in national practice and policy, shortcomings in hospital preparedness, and the imperative need for international cooperation (Figure 1). Additionally, specific recommendations were made, such as establishing liaison officer positions across the MENA countries.

Conclusion

There was broad agreement among the participants on the urgency for a collaborative MENA-wide preparedness plan to deal with potential CBRN emergencies. Inspirational cues were taken from existing European Union strategies, suggesting avenues for future coordination, potentially in collaboration with international bodies such as the World Health Organization.

History

Language

  • English

Publisher

Hamad Medical Corporation

Publication Year

  • 2024

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Medical Corporation
  • Ambulance Service - HMC
  • Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar
  • Ministry of Public Health - State of Qatar

Geographic coverage

Middle East and North Africa