India: Sphere Revision Consultation on Minimum Standards in Health Services and Psychosocial Support during Emergencies

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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Executive Summary

The Sphere Handbook is a tool for improving humanitarian response. It's a living document which is most widely recognized and used by the I/NGOs, United Nations agencies and different actors involved in humanitarian response. The first edition of the Handbook was published in year 2000 and the revised edition was in 2004. To make the Sphere Handbook remain relevant with the changing needs, field practices, technical innovations in the context of humanitarian work since 2004, the Sphere Board decided to revise the Sphere Project Handbook - Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response and the third edition is planned to be published in 2010.

The purpose of the Sphere handbook revision is not to change the qualitative standards, but to update the qualitative and quantitative indicators and guidance notes as needed, enhance linkages between sectors, and to iron out inconsistencies, faults and important omissions from the 2004 edition. For the new edition - Sphere Handbook 2010, the revision process is underway in different parts of the world. Series of workshops, consultation meetings, online discussions etc. are some of the strategies followed to engage the practitioners in humanitarian response and pool their experiences, insights, technical expertise and recommendations, which would in a way contribute to the updation and improvisation of the upcoming edition.

Being a pilot project of the Sphere Project in India, Sphere India has played a vital role in promoting and institutionalizing Sphere process in India. In continuation to these efforts, Sphere India is organizing Sphere revision consultations and workshops on different thematic areas in India as its contribution to the global revision process of the Sphere Handbook. The recently organized revision consultations have covered Common Minimum Standards, Food Security, Nutrition and Food Aid, Inclusion of person with Disabilities etc.

In the series of consultation meetings being organized for the global revision process, Sphere India with support of UNICEF, NIMHANS, PHFI and in collaboration with the respective Focal Points from The Sphere Project and other Sphere India members, organized a Sphere Revision Consultation on Minimum Standards in Health Services and Psychosocial Support during Emergencies' at NIMHANS, Bangalore on 22nd December 2009.

The participants in the consultation were from different medical colleges including MS Ramaiah Medical College, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, St. John's Medical College, Child Fund India, ESAF, Mobility India, World Vision India, Public Health Foundation of India, National Disaster Management Authority, Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority, Voluntary Health Association of Karnataka etc.

The consultation was successful in achieving its objects and got high level of acclaim and appreciation from all the stakeholders. The recommendations and suggestions given by the participants groups are much valuable and have been documented in this report. This report narrates the process, methodology and outcomes of the consultation.