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Health Intelligence Network for Advanced Contingency Planning (HINAP)

The Rwanda crisis of 1994, resulting in an estimated 50,000 deaths from cholera amongst refugees in Goma and the subsequent repatriation of over one million refugees back to Rwanda in 1997, have clearly demonstrated the need for advance health information and risk mapping for effective contingency planning for large population movements. Deaths from preventable diseases would be avoided if vital health data were available in advance.

WHO intends to provide such vital health data proactively for decision making and planning purposes through development of the "Health Intelligence Network for Advanced Contingency Planning" or HINAP.

An abundance of valuable information already exists at different levels of the 'information pipeline' at WHO and other organisations, but not in a form which is easily accessible or immediately made available to emergency personnel. Furthermore, under current circumstances, implementing agencies such as CDC, IOM, ICRC, UNHCR UNICEF, and NGOs such as MSF, are obliged to contact many various sources (e.g., different programmes and offices of WHO) for advance planning purposes. This is not only inconvenient, but may be impossible under emergency circumstances.

A core team in Geneva is working to develop an information management system for those involved in complex humanitarian emergencies with sudden population displacements. The project's major objective will be to consolidate, filter, organise and redistribute background information and existing data, to the right people at the right time in an easy-to-use format.

HINAP will depend almost exclusively on information provided by other organizations within and outside WHO. Often the information is already on the Internet. HINAP will focus on country situations where latent or low-level tensions have not yet attracted significant attention but could escalate. It could assist decision-making in order to spur preventative measures where possible, and contingency planning where necessary. Examples of information that could be collected for countries of origin and countries of asylum include:

* health data such as epidemic risks, incidence and prevalence of communicable diseases and vaccination coverage, nutritional status and country health profiles
* basic ethnographic data on populations at risk of displacement and capabilities of in-country NGOs and UN Agencies
* description of the country's disaster plan, if any
* level of health professional training in the country of origin which may help in recruiting and training of refugee health workers
* logistics information such as warehouse capacity, price and availability of fuel, air and road access and telecommunications capacity
* local and regional laboratory capabilities
* In-country production capacity for and /or availability of drugs, jerry cans, cooking kits and other needed items.

In summary, HINAP's goal is to consolidate and deliver this refugee relevant information to practitioners in a state-of-the-art manner (e.g., World Wide Web) and a variety of other formats (e.g., regular hard copy bulletins, CD-ROM, e-mail, faxback, etc.).

This project is supported by the US State Department's Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM), the British Department for International Development (DfID) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For further information, please contact: Eric K. Noji, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Medical Officer and HINAP Coordinator, Division of Emergency & Humanitarian Action, World Health Organization,20 Avenue Appia,CH-1211 Geneva 27, SWITZERLAND. Tel. 41 22 791-2705 (general extension: x 2754) Fax. 41 22 791-4844. E-mail: nojie@who.ch

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Health Intelligence Network for Advanced Contingency Planning (HINAP). Field Exchange 4, June 1998. p18. www.ennonline.net/fex/4/health

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