The World Health Organization is appealing for a record $2.54 billion to assist millions of people in 54 countries facing catastrophic health emergencies triggered by multiple man-made and natural disasters.
In launching the appeal, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world is witnessing an unprecedented convergence of crises that demand an unprecedented response.
He said WHO is addressing an overwhelming number of intersecting health emergencies. These include climate change-related flooding in Pakistan, drought and acute hunger across the Sahel and in the greater Horn of Africa, health challenges sparked by the war in Ukraine, and the outbreaks of measles, cholera, and other killer diseases in dozens of countries.
“The world cannot look away and hope these crises resolve themselves,” Tedros emphasized. “With funding and urgent action, we can save lives, support recovery efforts, prevent the spread of diseases within countries and across borders, and help give communities the opportunity to rebuild for the future.”
WHO reports 80 percent of humanitarian needs globally are driven by conflict and around half of preventable maternal and child deaths occur in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings.
The African region faces the highest burden of public health emergencies globally. In 2022, the continent accounted for 64 percent of all Grade 3, or most acute, emergencies globally.
Fiona Braka, health emergencies operations manager in WHO’s regional office for Africa, said the continent has had to deal with conflicts and climate-driven humanitarian crises combined with new and recurrent outbreaks of diseases.
Speaking from Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, she said dealing with these complex emergencies has not been easy. But she said support provided by WHO and partners is proving to be beneficial in many ways. She noted that member states have been making progress in dealing with emergencies as they arise.
“For instance, the time taken by countries to detect and interrupt outbreaks is shortening,” Braka gave as an example. “The investments made to address the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three years are paying off with the region better able to cope with the virus and its health emergency response systems bolstered.”
The 54 health crises WHO currently is assisting include 11 classified as Grade 3. They include seven African countries, along with Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen.