National Integrated Emergency Management Plan | 12 January 2021
DRDM’s strategic response to the Covid-19 pandemic
The Department of Risk and Disaster Management (DRDM) has adopted a strategic approach in response to the Covid-19 pandemic since 2020 and with the continued rise in the number of cases, has stepped up efforts to provide even more support to other agencies.
The principal officer leading the Covid-19 operation, Daniel Cetoupe, explains that his department is doing this by putting to maximum use the arrangements and procedures contained in the National Integrated Emergency Management Plan (NIEMP) 2019-2024, that was given the official nod of approval in June 2020.
The NIEMP outlines the general framework and the Seychelles approach to emergency preparedness and response and delivery of the Integrated Emergency Management System required by the law.
It is designed to guide emergency preparedness and response stakeholders from different organisations, helping them understand their own role and how it relates to the role of other individuals and organisations, and to serve the Seychelles citizens at their best during emergencies, regardless of their complexity, scope, location, or causes.
Mr Cetoupe adds that the DRDM is mandated under the DRM Act of 2014 to implement national emergency responses. In the case of Covid-19, the Ministry of Health is the current lead agency, coordinating the medical response for Covid-19, with support from the DRDM through the National Command Structure which had been set up as part of the NIEMP implementation.
The DRDM official further explains his department was the initial lead in the coordination efforts with the health authorities to empower the relevant players to navigate the pandemic, firstly by setting up the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre (PHEOC), and secondly by providing technical support to health personnel by DRDM’s in-house World Health Organisation (WHO) certified trainers.
“By the time the first case of Covid-19 was detected locally, protocols and resources were in place to respond to the situation,” Mr Cetoupe affirms.
The DRDM is also fulfilling its mandate in the pandemic through the coordination of non-medical response through its own National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC). The NEOC’s operation is being guided by the concepts set forth in the NIEMP, under three main functional areas.
The functional areas consist of emergency response, essential and critical service and humanitarian response. Emergency response entails developing and coordinating actions related to the care and treatment of persons affected by emergencies or disasters,especially regarding the provision of shelter, food, and basic needs, and the protection of vulnerable groups.
As for essential and critical service, the DRDM monitors natural, or human-induced events and assesses damage to essential services, basic sanitation, energy, telecommunications, transportation, and the environment, in order to define the actions to be taken by the authorities for the protection of life and property, and for the rapid re-establishment of services and recovery of the environment.
Humanitarian services is the functional area that aims to develop and coordinate the actions related to the care and treatment of persons affected by emergencies or disasters, especially regarding the provision of shelter, food, and basic needs, and the protection of vulnerable groups such as minors, pregnant women, individuals with disabilities, sick persons, and the elderly.
Mr Cetoupe says despite the fact that there have been some bumps along the way, the DRDM is satisfied with its overall coordination of all the non-medical efforts towards the pandemic, especially at this moment with an increased number of infections being recorded.
He credits the effectiveness of the department’s initiatives to many years of cumulative experience in emergency management including specific lessons learnt from dealing with the pandemic in 2020.
He states that despite having the appropriate institutional and legal framework in place, the DRDM still lacks the right number of people with the technical knowledge that could have provided the extra boost that the team requires.
He says that the pandemic has highlighted this need even further.
As an advisory, the DRDM is appealing to the public to refrain from spreading unverified information about the pandemic whether it has to do with the cases of infection, treatment of the virus or the vaccine that has not been confirmed by official sources as being credible and factual.
In addition, the department is urging the population to take personal responsibility to help stop the spread of the virus by adopting the measures established by the Ministry on Health.
The accompanying photos show some of the facilitating sessions carried out by DRDM.