Norway to send medical team to Greece

Norway is providing assistance to Greece after the devastating fire in the migrant camp Moria on Lesbos. An emergency medical team from Norway will now be sent to the region.

‘Greece needs our help. Norway has resources and can mobilise a medical team quickly,’ said Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.

On 9 September, the Greek authorities requested aid in the form of emergency medical help following the fire in the migrant camp Moria on Lesbos. Norway is now offering to send an emergency medical team (EMT) to the region. This team will be similar to the ones Norway deployed to northern Italy last spring, to Samoa during the measles epidemic in December 2019, and to the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the Ebola outbreak last year.

‘The refugees and migrants in Greece need humanitarian assistance immediately. Our offer to send an emergency medical team is part of the effort to meet the acute need for medical help over the next few weeks,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

The Norwegian health service will not be compromised

The decision to send the Norwegian EMT to Lesbos is a response to a concrete request for help, and reflects the Norwegian health authorities’ evaluation of the coronavirus pandemic situation in Norway, which they currently perceive as manageable, also in the longer term.

‘A condition of our assistance to Greece is that the intensive care capacity of Norwegian hospitals must not be compromised as a result. We will provide up to 25 nurses, doctors and logistics personnel from hospitals all over the country, so that the burden placed on each individual hospital is small, while the value of the medical team on Lesbos will be significant,’ said Mr Høie.

‘The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated an already challenging humanitarian situation for the refugees and migrants in Greece. I am glad that we have such good cooperation with other European countries for dealing with emergencies like this one. Norway’s effort is linked to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which is now helping to finance and coordinate medical efforts,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

The medical team will support the local health service in the area. The medical personnel will be under the command of the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection, in cooperation with the Norwegian Directorate of Health. Initially, it is planned that the team will be on Lesbos for two weeks. However, this may be extended depending on how the situation develops.

The European Medical Corps provides cross-sectoral emergency responses, such as mobilising EMTs, to help deal with international crises. It is a part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Norway is one of the countries that is certified to send EMTs through this arrangement, in cooperation with the EU and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection and the Norwegian Directorate of Health have joint responsibility for Norwegian EMTs. The medical personnel are provided by the regional health authorities and come from hospitals all over Norway.

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