The Health Emergency Operation Center (HEOC) in Nepal plays a crucial role in coordinating and managing the response to various disasters and public health emergencies. Established in 2014 with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), the HEOC operates as the secretariat of the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) during any public health emergencies or disasters.
During the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015, the HEOC was immediately activated, aiding in the streamlined efforts at the central level. Since then, the HEOC has been the main coordinating center for the health sector's response during subsequent events such as floods, landslides, windstorms, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to its role in response coordination, the HEOC is responsible for preparedness and readiness activities. It facilitates the establishment and strengthening of hub and satellite hospitals networks, the formation and orientation of Emergency Medical Deployment Teams (EMDTs), stockpiling of emergency medical logistics, and the conduction of Emergency Care System Assessments. These activities, conducted as part of disaster recovery interventions, have helped strengthen Nepal's health security.
Recognizing the need for decentralized coordination, Provincial Health Emergency Operation Centers (PHEOCs) have been established in all seven provinces of Nepal. These PHEOCs have played a vital role in coordinating and supporting the response during various disasters, including the ongoing COVID-19 response.
To further enhance Nepal's capacity to mitigate disaster risks and respond effectively to public health emergencies, it is necessary to develop, strengthen, and maintain the country's readiness. This includes ongoing efforts to improve coordination mechanisms, invest in infrastructure and resources, and ensure preparedness at both the central and provincial levels. By optimizing the use of available resources and adopting a coordinated approach, Nepal can enhance its ability to effectively respond to health emergencies and protect the well-being of its population.