The Spanish Technical Aid Response Team (START). Photo credits: AECID.

WHO recognition to Spanish medical response project ‘START’

The World Health Organisation has given recognition to the Spanish team working to improve the technical aid response system at the AECID Office for Humanitarian Aid, bringing medical assistance to disaster zones in less than 72 hours.

The Spanish Technical Aid Response Team (START) – a special team at the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) that brings medical assistance to disaster zones around the world in less than 72 hours – has been given recognition by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The recognition was part of Emergency Medical Teams (EMT), a WHO initiative to strengthen and standardise the deployment of quality-assured international medical teams in emergencies.

START – also known as ‘Chalecos rojos’, as team members wear red vests in emergencies – was certified by WHO and the European Commission earlier this year, in May, to become part of the international humanitarian aid scene.

The project comprises a field hospital and over 60 health workers and other specialists (doctors from the national health system, paramedics, engineers, water and sanitation experts, logistics technicians, and so on), ready to be deployed in emergency situations at the shortest notice.

The team can give assistance to 150 or 200 patients a day for 15 days in their hospital, offering 20 beds, an operating room, and the infrastructure and supplies needed for self-sufficiency (instruments, drugs, water and sanitation, etc.).

Funded by AECID, START was implemented for 1.3 million euro, plus a 500,000-euro contribution from the European Commission for the Spanish Emergency Medical Team (EMT II). Also, the EC will bear 85% of the transportation costs in each deployment.

The START project was born out of the need to improve aid response at the Office for Humanitarian Aid in AECID, an agency reporting to the Office of the Secretary of State for International Cooperation and for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.