Coordination and information management becomes a major challenge in the event of or immediately following a large scale disaster. To address this issue, Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) established the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) in December 2010 as a coordination and communication point for disaster information across Nepal. In the same line and with the objective of further strengthening the health sector response capacity, EHA WHO proposed to establish Health Emergency Operation Centre as a central command and control facility for the effective administration of emergency preparedness and disaster management in any emergency situation. As a result, MoHP, in 2012, decided (Secretary level decision, dated 12 January 2012) to establish HEOC within the MoHP premises.
HEOC will operate under the Curative Service Division and function as a high level operational centre for the MoHP’s various divisions, such as Department of Health Services particularly Epidemiology and Disease Control Division. HEOC will host necessary resources and data for effective coordination and response during emergencies. During emergency, the centre will function 24/7 with trained and dedicated staff. HEOC will be equipped with communication material such as telephone, mobile, internet, satellite phones, etc. In addition, it will consist of all information technology for communicating and coordinating with NEOC, Central Referral Hospitals, Regional hospitals, etc. so that HEOC can update data regularly and coordinate disaster response appropriately.
In addition to the immediate response and management of health related implication of any disaster, HEOC will also play a pivotal role in maintaining operational linkages between health sector preparedness and response mechanism and the existing and emerging institutions/mechanisms of community, district, regional and the central level disaster risk management initiatives. For example, HEOC as the operational hub during emergency and non-emergency setting, will build on and update the policies, strategies, planning tools, database etc for the health sector emergency preparedness, response and rehabilitation.