What is the role of WHO in emergencies?


What is the role of WHO (World Health Organization) in emergencies?

WHO means World Health Organization, WHO (World Health Organization) is committed to saving lives and reducing suffering during times of crisis – whether caused by conflict, disease outbreak or a disaster. WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme is committed to working with Member States and other stakeholders so that suffering and death in crises are minimized and systems are protected and repaired.

WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme provides the following services to countries:
  • Support of the assessment of country health emergency preparedness and development of national plans to address critical capacity gaps;
  • Development of strategies and capacities to prevent and control high-threat infectious hazards; and
  • Monitoring of new and ongoing public health events to assess, communicate and recommend action for public health risks.
In addition, WHO will work with countries and partners to:
  • Ensure readiness to diminish public health risks in countries with high vulnerability; and
  • Provide life-saving health services to affected populations in countries with ongoing emergencies.

How can disaster risk reduction save help lives?

Emergencies can happen in any country, at any time. When disaster strikes, it can seriously disrupt the functioning of a community and people will depend on help from the outside. But a lot can be done to prevent and reduce the effects of disasters as well as to strengthen the response of communities at risk.

Countries with well-developed health systems and a well-trained, well-equipped health workforce in communities are much better prepared for disasters. When a community is well-prepared, many lives can be saved in the first hours after an emergency before external help arrives. The people in the community know local risks and their own needs best.

To reduce future risks and human and material losses, WHO (World Health Organization) helps countries build resilience in health systems by strengthening emergency risk management, an approach which includes measures ranging from prevention to preparedness to response and recovery. Emergency risk management actions include:
  • Creating supportive national policies, strategies and allocating resources to manage risks;
  • Improving access to quality primary health care before disaster strikes, as well as in response and recovery;
  • Training and equipping the health workforce and including them in the planning for all types of emergencies;
  • Identifying hazards, vulnerabilities, and capacities to assess risks;
  • Promoting risk awareness of emergencies and providing health education (e.g. sanitation and hygiene);
  • Providing early warning of emergencies to health providers and communities; and
  • Protecting health facilities from hazards and preparing for emergency health response.

How does WHO work partners with in emergencies?

The Health Emergencies Program works with its partners to protect and save people’s lives in all health emergencies. During a crisis, WHO works with the local Ministry of Health and partners to identify where health needs are greatest and to coordinate the efforts of partner organizations to ensure that these areas are covered by both medical supplies and personnel.

No organization can act alone in emergencies. WHO regularly collaborates with partner networks to leverage and coordinate the expertise of hundreds of partner agencies:
  • Global Health Cluster
  • Emergency Medical Teams
  • Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN)
  • Standby partners.

What is The Health Cluster?

When emergencies occur, coordination is necessary. No one organization can respond to a health crisis alone. The Global Health Cluster is a platform for more than 900 organizations to work in partnership to ensure collective action results in a more timely, effective and predictable response to health emergencies. WHO is the IASC designated Cluster Lead Agency.

The Global Health Cluster exists to support countries by:
  • Providing the right expertise at the right place at the right time;
  • Building the capacity of Health Cluster Coordinators;
  • Gathering and disseminating sound and relevant information to guide partners ’response;
  • Identifying and addressing gaps in technical knowledge and available guidance to ensure the health response follows global best practices and standards; and,
  • Promoting and advocating for the importance of humanitarian health action on the global stage, to help ensure that political and financial support is secured.

Where does WHO get its funding for emergencies?

Financing the work of the WHO Health Emergencies Program includes core financing for baseline staff and activities at the 3 levels of the Program, financing from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies, and financing for ongoing activities in acute and protracted emergencies through appeals guided by humanitarian response plans.

The core budget is the funding WHO uses to implement the normative, technical, and operations-management capacities and activities reflected in the results framework for the Health Emergencies Program.

Funding for the core budget comes from 3 sources:

(1) Assessed contributions: The annual quotas paid by Member States to support the work of the Organization.

(2) Core voluntary contributions: Flexible contributions made by Member States and other donors that the Director-General may allocate at her discretion and according to need.

(3) Earmarked contributions: Voluntary contributions earmarked for the core budget of the WHO Health Emergencies Program or specific activities within it.

How is WHO's Health Emergencies Programme monitored?

On 29 March 2016, the Director-General established the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee to provide oversight and monitoring of the development and performance of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, guide the Program’s activities, and report findings through the Executive Board to the Health Assembly. Reports of the Committee will be shared with the United Nations Secretary-General and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee.

These are the main functions of the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee:
  • Assess the performance of the Program’s key functions in health emergencies (including all 5 pillars of the work of the Program, for example, including both emergency operations and core services).
  • Determine the appropriateness and adequacy of the Program’s financing and resourcing.
  • Provide advice to the Director-General.
  • Review the Program’s reports on WHO’s actions in health emergencies.
  • Review reports on the state of health security developed by the Director-General for submission to the World Health Assembly through the Executive Board and to the United Nations General Assembly.
  • Prepare an annual report on its activities, conclusions, recommendations, and, where necessary, interim reports, for submission by the Chair of the Committee to the World Health Assembly through the WHO Executive Board.
The Committee consists of 8 members drawn from national governments, nongovernmental organizations, and the UN system, with extensive experience in a broad range of disciplines, including public health, infectious disease, humanitarian crises, public administration, emergency management, community engagement, partnerships and development. Members serve in their personal capacity and will exercise their responsibilities with full regard for the paramount importance of independence.

The Committee will regularly meet and engage with the Program management team to help guide its work. They will also assess and influence the work of the Program through engagement with member states.
What is the role of WHO in emergencies?

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