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Responding to disasters during the COVID-19 pandemic has become more complicated as National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) have had to provide assistance as well as dealing with the pandemic at the same time. To maintain safety standards during any disaster response in Viet Nam this year, the Viet Nam National Disaster Authority (VNDMA) has handed over medical equipment to five Ministerial Standing Offices for Disaster Prevention.

The handover ceremony was held on 20 July 2021 at the Standing Office of the National Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control. The support items, funded by Direct Relief through the AHA Centre, comprised of medical equipment, including body thermal scanner systems, and medical face masks. These items will play a significant role in supporting the VNDMA and its disaster-prevention offices during any disaster response amidst the pandemic.

Viet Nam, like many countries within the region, is prone to disasters, especially in the second half of the year. Tropical storms, floods and landslides are the most frequent types of disaster and often simultaneously occur in the country, causing loss of life and property. Toward the end of 2020, Viet Nam was hit by Tropical Storms LINFA and NANGKA, which affected more than 800,000 people, with some 66,500 people forced to evacuate.

However, when such disasters occur during the COVID-19 pandemic, the response is more complicated and challenging as the country is still combating the pandemic while responding to the disaster. This means that a country needs to double the resources and this puts more pressure on the local authorities already facing the pandemic crisis. A disaster might well occur in an area where COVID-19 case rates are high, therefore, the disaster response must incorporate health protocols to ensure there are no new clusters of COVID-19 cases in temporary shelters.

The VNDMA has mitigated the above situations and any possible risks during its disaster responses. Understanding the risks faced by officials, it is crucial to be prepared and ready by providing the ministerial-level agencies with medical equipment and face masks during their responses to disasters.

The AHA Centre is grateful for the support items funded by Direct Relief to be distributed to the VNDMA. It is essential that disaster management agencies in the region have the medical equipment to ensure safety during their responses in the pandemic.

“It is very challenging for us now to respond to disasters while also combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The way we respond to disasters in this current pandemic needs to be adjusted while maintaining agility in our disaster responses”

This is not the first time that the AHA Centre has mobilised items in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the AHA Centre was mandated by the Governing Board to mobilise relief items from the DELSA Regional Stockpile in Subang, Malaysia; the DELSA Satellite Warehouse in Chainat, Thailand; and the DELSA Satellite Warehouse in Camp Aguinaldo, the Philippines, to support the ongoing COVID-19 responses in Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. The AHA Centre has also distributed 1.5 million reusable face masks, donated by Singapore’s Temasek Foundation, to the ASEAN Member States, ASEAN Centres, entities related to ASEAN and the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia – PMI).


Written by : Moch Syifa, Kiran M. Husni | Photo Credit: AHA Centre