Health action in crises - annual report 2007

Report
from World Health Organization
Published on 21 Jan 2008
This year, three key developments have influenced WHO's emergency work: 1) the increasing demands from Member States to strengthen WHO's emergency response operations; 2) the implementation of the humanitarian reform, resulting in new responsibilities for WHO; and 3) lessons learned during recent crises. A wide range of strategies and initiatives have come to fruition as a result of intensive work with WHO's regional offices, other humanitarian partners, and donors.

A six-year strategy on strengthening country capacity for risk reduction and emergency preparedness has been developed with key stakeholders. HAC has trained around 1000 staff and partners through various courses including the Public Health Pre-Deployment Training course.

Using funds provided by donors under the Three-Year Programme to Enhance WHO's Performance in Crises (TYP), WHO has continued to strengthen its field presence. It now has over 200 staff in the field and a full-time dedicated presence in over 35 countries. Following intensive training, these staff have raised resources that have enabled WHO to further increase its staffing levels in the field.

The past few years have witnessed a substantial increase in resource mobilization for crisis work. The total global voluntary income received by HAC during the biennium 2006-2007 has exceeded US$ 270 million, approximately three times bigger than that originally foreseen in the programme budget.

WHO has begun training field staff on its standard operating procedures for emergencies. Operational and logistics platforms have been expanded. WHO now has privileged access to five regional logistics hubs through its partnership agreement with the World Food Programme.

The global health cluster, established two years ago, now comprises 30 UN and non-UN members (Red Cross, international non-governmental organizations and institutions). It has a common plan and budget managed by HAC.

Lastly, the TYP was the subject of an independent review at the end of 2007. The evaluation was designed to measure the effectiveness of the TYP and to provide pointers to where WHO's efforts should be directed in the future.

But we can't afford to rest on our laurels. There are also important challenges and a number of strategies that must be implemented at all levels of the Organization to improve countries' ability to minimize the effects of health emergencies on their communities. WHO looks forward to working with our partners at global, regional and country level to implement these initiatives in the coming year.

Dr Ala Alwan
Assistant Director-General
January 2008