Expert Group on Non-radiological Public Health Aspects of Radiation Emergency Planning and Response (EGNR)

Emergencies create a wide range of problems at the individual, family, community and societal levels. They can erode the support systems of people affected by a disaster, for example by undermining community structures, and they can increase the risk of various new problems and amplify pre-existing ones (IASC, 2007). The examples of the COVID-19 pandemic, past natural or industrial disasters, and of past nuclear or radiological accidents prove that all health emergencies have a common denominator – the impact on mental health and well-being. 

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The mental health and psycho-social impacts of radiological and nuclear emergencies and their mitigation have been on the policy agenda for several decades – in view of improving both emergency preparedness and response plans and recovery frameworks. While the ionising radiation-related health effects on the human body are largely documented and studied, radiological and nuclear emergencies also give rise to mental health and psycho-social impairments associated with the consequences of protective measures. As evidenced during past nuclear or radiological emergencies, notably in the aftermath of the accidents at the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plants, these mental health issues may have significant socio‑economic impacts on the affected communities. The World Health Organization (WHO) subsequently published the Framework for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies to provide high-level policy guidance in this area.

In 2019, the NEA Committee on Radiological Protection and Public Health's(CRPPH) Working Party on Nuclear Emergency Matters (WPNEM) created the Expert Group on Non‑radiological Public Health Aspects of Radiation Emergency Planning and Response (EGNR) to provide input to the WHO framework and to work on an operational extension of that document. The EGNR report will deliver guidance to decision makers in member countries while planning for, responding to, and recovering from nuclear or radiological emergencies by providing practical solutions, approaches and tools to integrate mental health and psychosocial support into protective action plans. 

The EGNR serves as unique platform addressing the non-radiological health aspects of radiological or nuclear emergencies, with representatives from eight NEA member countries (Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States), as well as from the World Health Organization (WHO).