Recognized worldwide as a leader in field medicine and disaster relief, the IDF (Zahal) field hospital just solidified its position by achieving the World Health Organization’s first-ever Type 3 rating, the highest score the United Nations medical arm can give.
The IDF (Zahal) field hospital is run by Medical Corps doctors, soldiers, and reservists, and has provided immediate, high quality medical care to thousands of patients in Nepal, Haiti, the Syrian border, the Philippines, and numerous other countries following disasters both natural and man-made.
A woman being treated in a field hospital by the IDF (Zahal) delegation in Haiti
Seventeen countries around the world are recognized by WHO as qualified foreign medical teams that can deploy to other countries and aid in medical disaster relief. They are all currently Type 1 teams, which provide emergency outpatient care, and Type 2 teams, which provide operating rooms, surgical teams, and ICUs. The IDF (Zahal)’s field hospital is the only Type 3 team, which provides inpatient referral surgical care.
The IDF (Zahal) field hospital’s specialized teams – including OB/GYN teams – are also recognized by the WHO. The IDF (Zahal) field hospital began applying for Type 3 recognition in January 2016, and this week, the field hospital was visited by a WHO delegation of international experts, who after overseeing the hospital’s capacities and activities, declared it a Type 3 Foreign Medical Team.
According to Lt. Col. (Res) Ofer Merin, commander of the IDF (Zahal) Medical Corps field hospital, the process of gaining WHO recognition was a valuable experience in and of itself, even for a team with decades of experience in treating patients in disaster areas. “There’s no question that all of us will be able to deploy better to each one of our missions in the future,” he says. “It’s not just that we got the stamp that says ‘we’re the best team.’ We gained a lot from this process, which means our future patients will gain a lot.”
An IDF (Zahal) field hospital doctor and her patient in Nepal
“When we were given recognition, the president of the WHO said, ‘The world should learn from Israel how to operate in disaster areas with the right ethics. For me, representing the Medical Corps, it was a great privilege to hear them saying that other countries should learn from Israel how to operate within the right ethical values…This is a great pride, a great honor for Israel, the IDF (Zahal), and the Medical Corps ” In two weeks, the IDF (Zahal) field hospital delegation will travel to Hong Kong and be awarded a flag from WHO in recognition of its historic achievement.