Virtual Environmental and Humanitarian Adviser Tool – (VEHA Tool) is a tool
to easily integrate environmental considerations in humanitarian response. Field Implementation guidances are useful for the design and execution of humanitarian activities in the field.

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VEHA - Field Implementation Guidance

Health Systems - Healthcare workforce
Ensuring adequate healthcare workforce at all levels
Training staff according to national standards or international guidelines

Training staff according to national standards or international guidelines


Environmental factors causing/contributing to the needs and affecting the humanitarian activity

Environmental determinants of health and community health behaviours and any existing poor practice environment-related health provision behaviours might increase health needs and the use of health items as well as increasing the need for staff.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Ensure equal training opportunities for women, disabled and others.


Environmental impact categories

Climate change
Natural Resource depletion
Impact on wellbeing / mental health

Summary of Impacts
Potential environmental impacts

Untrained staff can result in inappropriate management of essential medical items and technologies as well as waste management. This can cause further health problems to the population as well as contaminate air, water, and soil.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Training staff according to national and international standards helps ensure the appropriate management of health facilities, essential medical products, and technologies. Staff needs to be properly trained in order to ensure adequate disposal and management of medical items, including plastic and other recyclable products as well as chemical and hazardous products. For example, if an appropriate protocol is not followed during blood collection or transfusion there is a risk of spreading diseases such as HIV. On the other hand, if medical products such as alcohol, are not properly disposed they can end up in water sources or in the soil, contaminating the surrounding environment.


Summary of environmental activities

Properly train staff based on national and international standards, with clear environmental linkages to all aspects of health service delivery.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Train staff for their roles according to national standards or international guidelines.

Recognize that staff in acute emergencies may have expanded roles and need training and support.

Introduce proper environmental practices in training and introduce refreshers training where turnover is high. Ensure this training addresses environmental impacts and potential mitigations relating to all areas of health service provision, including health facilities construction, refurbishment, maintenance, and operation.

Infection control should be given a central place in the training and supervision of healthcare workers and ancillary staff – e.g.: hand hygiene and basic daily principles of infection control.

Engaging the health workforce and its associations and unions in embedding environmental sustainability and resilience into health system culture through clear policies, capacity-building, and motivation.

Educating the health workforce about the environmental impact of health systems

ƒEnsure that the health workforce is prepared and able to adapt to environmental emergencies, different environmental conditions and projected impacts of climate change.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

WVI supporting clinics in a South Asian country found that health staff was not aware of the risks of health waste on the environment. WVI included health staff in a pilot study observing a reduction in health waste links to disease incidence and demonstrated a correlation. Health staff implemented more effective health waste procedures.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

# of staff trainings that incorporate environmental determinants of health, climate change, environmental impacts of community health behaviours and of health service delivery and humanitarian health activities

Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities
  • Prevention of environmental damage
  • Mitigation of environmental damage
Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)
  • Time and resources to assess the environmental impacts of the existing health system, of proposed humanitarian health activities, and of current community behaviours.
  • Time to develop appropriate activities to incorporate into staff training.
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