NEPAL HEALTH SECTOR SIMULATION EXERCISE Report | MoHP : The Ministry of Health and Population, Government of Nepal completed a three-day Simulation Exercise (SimEx) for participants from the MoHP – Incident Command System, Health Emergency Operations Centre, National Public Health Laboratory, Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Ambulance dispatch, PHEOC, Bagmati Province and seven hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley and Dhulikhel. The Simulation exercise took place on the 21st – 23rd of September 2022, with technical assistance from WHO SEARO and support from WHO Nepal and Respond Global Health Emergency Experts from Australia.
Respond Global was commissioned to assist in the technical delivery of the SimEx involving extensive simulation preparation and an online training platform, as well as a preparation visit and in-country support during the simulation. A comprehensive report was provided to both the Ministry of Health and Population and WHO Country Office Nepal to support future planning and development.
Nepal is among the top 20 disaster-prone countries due to its topography, seismic terrain, seasonal monsoon and several flood-prone and high-fire-risk areas. Therefore, coordination is critical to managing disaster events, and the SimEx presented the opportunity to review current coordination plans. Notably, an analysis of communication during a large-scale disaster between the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), Health Emergency Operation Centre including Provincial Health Emergency Operations Centres (HEOC/PHEOC), various divisions of Department of Health Services, hub and satellite hospitals and other stakeholders.
While the country effectively responded to multiple emergencies within the context of COVID-19 and has run frequent simulation exercises, the MoHP plans to strengthen further its coordination mechanisms, particularly coordination of HEOC with PHEOCs, different divisions of Department of Health Services (DoHS), and hub and satellite hospital networks. WHO has been promoting strengthening HEOCs within the National and Sub-national levels of its member states. This SimEx formed a component of that work, providing an avenue for selected countries to test, learn and strengthen current readiness and response systems.
One component of the IHR MEF is a Simulation Exercise, which simulates an emergency situation to which a described or simulated response is made. Its purpose is to validate and enhance preparedness and response plans, capacities, procedures, and systems for disaster or public health emergency response, be it for a specific hazard or following an all-hazard approach. Commonly abbreviated as SimEx, these are useful to achieve different objectives. These may include, but not limited to, reviewing and assessing planning assumptions, procedures, operational plans, guidelines, and standard operating procedures; assessing and testing interoperability between these plans and procedures; revealing planning weaknesses and resource gaps; improving coordination and collaboration; clarifying roles and responsibilities; practicing and clarifying chain of command; developing knowledge and skills for emergency response operations; familiarizing staff with new functions and equipment; and gaining recognition and trust in the emergency management processes. The Nepal Health Sector Simulation Exercise was conducted by the MoHP on 21-23 September 2022 with technical support from WHO and exercise facilitation support from Respond Global.
The three-day SimEx, which was preceded by months of preparation, focused on testing the coordination aspect of health response during a large-scale disaster. This included MoHP, HEOCs, various divisions of the Department of Health Services, Hub and Satellite hospitals, and other relevant stakeholders. The SimEx also helped to analyze the communication and information management within the health sector, and formulated recommendations for further improvement.
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