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Modifying the Interagency Emergency Health Kit to include treatment for non-communicable diseases in natural disasters and complex emergencies


The Interagency Emergency Health Kit (IEHK) provides a standard package of medicines and simple medical devices for aid agencies to use in emergencies such as disasters and armed conflicts. Despite the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in such settings, the IEHK includes few drugs and devices for management of NCDs. Using published data to model the population burden of acute and chronic presentations of NCDs in emergency-prone regions, we estimated the quantity of medications and devices that should be included in the IEHK. NCDs considered were cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension and chronic respiratory disease. In scenario 1 (the primary scenario), we assumed that resources in the IEHK would only include those needed to manage acute life-threatening conditions. In scenario 2, we included resources required to manage both acute and chronic presentations of NCDs. Drugs and devices that might be required included amlodipine, aspirin, atenolol, beclomethasone, dextrose 50%, enalapril, furosemide, glibenclamide, glyceryl trinitrate, heparin, hydralazine, hydrochlorothiazide, insulin, metformin, prednisone, salbutamol and simvastatin. For scenario 1, the number of units required ranged from 12 (phials of hydralazine) to ∼15 000 (tablets of enalapril). Space and weight requirements were modest and total cost for all drugs and devices was approximately US$2078. As expected, resources required for scenario 2 were much greater. Space and cost requirements increased proportionately: estimated total cost of scenario 2 was $22 208. The resources required to treat acute NCD presentations appear modest, and their inclusion in the IEHK seems feasible.

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