According to the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (article 168), the EU can promote actions in order to complement and improve national policies and to foster cooperation in the fight against major health threats.
Recent health threats such as the N1H1 Pandemic Flu and Ebola disease have drawn the attention of governments, media and citizens and demonstrated the necessity to coordinate countries’ preparedness and response not only at European level but globally. Not only diseases, but also accidents in communications, fires, chemical accidents and accidents due to severe weather conditions might represent important health threats.
Hospitals have a fundamental role to play during a health emergency and it is important to ensure that relevant infrastructure, preparedness and response plans are in place to face these situations. Health professionals need also to be properly trained.
In January 2001, HOPE published a report entitled “Disaster Medicine in Europe – Organisation and Trends”. The purpose of the publication was to acquire knowledge about risks and threats, plans and levels of preparedness and the operational principles being used to meet disasters in different countries in Europe. The publication was limited to peacetime disaster scenarios, in which hospitals would play an important role. The report was updated in 2003.
More recently, HOPE participated in a EU co-founded project (Health C) aimed at improving health professionals’ communication skills in the management of health emergency situations. The project lasted from 2012 to 2014 and produced a training course and a toolkit which have been translated in seven languages.
Improving Crisis Communication Skills in Health Emergency Management