Emergency Response Units (ERU) are coordinated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in collaboration with ERU National Societies. An ERU is a team of trained specialists, who can start work on short notice and have capacity to work from one and up to four months in the field. The aim is to deliver immediate support to National Societies undergoing a humanitarian crisis. There has been identified a need for Public Health (PH) focused tools - in addition to the clinical care offered by other ERUs - to mitigate health risks at community level. The public health is normally affected when a crisis occurs, for example with disease outbreaks.That is why a Public Health Emergency Response Unit CBS Configuration has been developed: the PH ERU CBS.
The overall purpose of the PH ERU CBS is to reduce the loss of lives by preventing or contributing to reduction of outbreaks or potential outbreaks of diseases, or their negative impacts in sudden-onset disasters, protracted crisis or health emergencies/outbreaks, where there is a defined need for surveillance of diseases. The general objective of the PH ERU CBS is to support the establishment of a CBS system for detecting and reporting of events of public health significance within a community by community members, to strengthen the response during an emergency.
The PH ERU configuration complements existing ERUs, and is not a replacement for capacity building of National Societies or contingency planning. The PH ERU CBS has close linkages to other response activities. For instance, it can link detected cases for referral to a clinical ERU. It can be deployed together with a community-case management of cholera PH ERU (CCM ERU), to allow for effective data collection at oral rehydration points (see figure below).
Figure 1.0 Complementarity of ERUs and link to pre and post disaster activities.