ONE ASEAN, ONE RESPONSE: The Philippines Hosts the ASEAN 3rd Regional Collaboration Drill

One ASEAN, One Response – this is the declaration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) concerning disasters in the region, where member-nations respond to disasters as one body in and outside the Region. On December 3-5, 2018, the Philippines hosts the third Regional Collaboration Drill (RCD) as part of the Project on Strengthening the ASEAN Regional Capacity on Disaster Health Management (ARCH), in line with the ASEAN Declaration on Disaster Health Management.
The ASEAN Declaration on Disaster Health Management, which highlighted the importance of responding as one region, was signed during the 31st ASEAN Summit in the Philippines last November 2017.
In line with the Declaration, Project ARCH was initiated by the National Institute for Emergency Medicine-Thailand, in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).  The project aims to strengthen the over-all regional response during disasters, particularly on coordination among emergency medical teams (EMTs) and team management relevant to the response.
Project ARCH includes the conduct of three (3) RCDs.  The first drill was hosted by Thailand on June 2017, and the second by Vietnam on March 2018.  The third Drill in the Philippines will be attended by the Executive Committee of the Department of Health, members of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and five-man EMTs from each of the ASEAN member-nations.
The Philippine hosting of the drill is in line with the preparation of the country to respond to a possible 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila.  It will benefit the country to enhance the inter-agency collaboration and coordination both at the national and international response operation activities. It is also part of the observance of December 6 as the “National Health Emergency Preparedness Day” as per Proclamation No. 705, series of 1995.
“The hosting of RCD is in line with our country’s commitment as an ASEAN member and it is also in accordance with FOURmula One Plus, where responsiveness is a priority especially during environmental health threats, hazards, and disasters,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque stated.
The RCD is a combination of a two-day tabletop exercise to be held on December 3 and 5 and a one-day field exercise on December 4 at the Philippine Army Grandstand.  The RCD intends to examine the current draft regional collaboration mechanism on disaster health management and tools which were developed through the ARCH Project.  The exercise also aims to further refine EMT operations at all levels in terms of command and control, coordination and collaboration, and communication.
“From a country with several experiences on disaster, ranking 3rd among the 171 countries in terms of disaster risk, the Philippines recognizes that coordination saves lives and, therefore, we need to improve our coordination between countries, among local responders, and that of civil and military sectors,” Secretary Duque concluded.