Monday, May 29, 2023

WHO “overwhelmed” by rise in health emergencies

LONDON (Reuters) – The growing number of health emergencies around the world, from COVID-19 to cholera, has “overwhelmed” the World Health Organization’s response, a senior adviser said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the UN agency’s annual meeting, Professor Walid Ammar, chair of a committee reviewing the WHO’s emergency response, said the funding and staffing gap was widening due to demands every once in a while.

“The program is overwhelmed, as the demands have only increased with the multiplicity and complexity of emergencies,” he said.

As of March this year, WHO was responding to 53 high-level emergencies, according to a committee report. These include outbreaks of COVID-19, cholera and Marburg in Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania, as well as humanitarian emergencies such as earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and floods in Pakistan.

The report also states that climate change is increasing the frequency of events such as floods and cyclones, all with health consequences.

However, according to the report, the emergency program’s original budget for 2022-2023 is only 53% funded, requiring more stable funding.

WHO and member states are trying to improve the way the agency – and countries – respond to health emergencies, as well as strengthen WHO funding. On Monday, member states approved a new budget that includes a 20% increase in their mandatory fees.

In Malawi, for example, four different emergency teams responded to cholera, COVID-19, polio and floods, which may overlap, WHO said.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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