Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for the ‘WHO’ Category

International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision


What is the ICG?

The ICG was established in 1997, following major outbreaks of meningitis in Africa, as a mechanism to manage and coordinate the provision of emergency vaccine supplies and antibiotics to countries during major outbreaks. Working closely with vaccine producers, through WHO and UNICEF, and following disease trends, the ICG monitors its vaccine security global stock levels for cholera, meningitis and yellow fever to ensure availability of sufficient supply to respond to disease outbreaks when they occur.

The ICG brings partners together to improve cooperation and coordination of epidemic preparedness and response. The ICG also works on forecasting vaccine stocks, negotiating vaccine prices through its networks or partners, evaluating interventions and standard protocols for managing diseases.

The ICG’s mission is to:

  • Rapidly deliver vaccines to respond to disease outbreaks;
  • Provide equitable vaccine allocation through careful assessment of risk, based on epidemiological and operational criteria;
  • Coordinate the use of limited amounts of vaccines and essential medicines;
  • Reduce wastage of vaccines and supplies;
  • Advocate for readily available, low-cost vaccines and medicines;
  • Work with manufacturers through UNICEF and WHO to guarantee the availability of vaccine emergency stock supplies at the global levels;
  • Follow standard operating procedures and establish financial mechanisms to purchase emergency vaccine supplies and ensure their sustainability.

Who are ICG’s partners?

The ICG is made up of four member agencies:

International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) – Has strong country presence for community health promotion, local social and resource mobilization and provides support to states during disasters and epidemics.

Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) – An independent, field-based NGO that provides health care to vulnerable populations in emergency settings.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – Conducts wide scale vaccine procurement and shipment, and provides technical support on campaign planning and implementation in country focusing specially on social mobilization and cold chain.

World Health Organization (WHO) – Provides global public health advice and technical support to countries. During outbreaks, WHO focuses on vaccine stockpile management, surveillance, preparedness and response to disease outbreaks.

Additional expertise and technical advice is provided on a case-by- case basis from partners including: Agence de Médecine Preventive in Paris, Epicentre in Paris, GAVI the Vaccine Alliance, WHO Collaborating Centres, the US Centers for Disease Control and the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO).

Vaccine manufacturers, vaccine equipment providers and financial donor institutions are also engaged in the ICG operations.

Which vaccine stockpiles are available through the ICG?

ICGs have been established to provide access to vaccines for the following diseases:

Cholera – Since 2013, the ICG for Cholera manages the global stockpile of oral cholera vaccine which was created as an additional tool to help control cholera epidemics. Since July 2013, the ICG has released more than 5 million doses of oral cholera vaccines to affected countries.

Meningitis – The ICG on Vaccine Provision for Epidemic Meningitis Control was established in January 1997, following major outbreaks of meningitis in Africa. Since then, 59 million doses of vaccines were shipped for emergency response in 20 African countries.

Yellow fever – Since 2001, 90 million doses of yellow fever vaccine have been released and shipped to countries facing outbreaks. With vaccine manufacturers as partners in the ICG, a stockpile of 6 million doses has been reserved for outbreak response since May 2016.

How does the ICG decide to release emergency vaccine stockpiles?

Vaccine security stocks can be accessed by ANY country facing an epidemic ANYWHERE in the world, as long as the country’s request fulfills ICG’s criteria for release of vaccine stocks. As a first step, a country must complete and submit a request to the ICG Secretariat using the standard application form

The ICG secretariat at WHO then circulates this request to the partners: UNICEF, Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Federation of the Red Cross, and WHO for review and assessment. Additional requests for information are sent back to the country, if needed. Following a rapid consultation and evaluation process, the decision to release vaccines and other supplies is communicated to the requesting country within 48 hours, once all necessary information has been provided. If approved, UNICEF procures vaccines and injection materials and organizes delivery of vaccines to the country, ideally within 7 days.

Requests are evaluated taking into account the epidemiological situation, vaccination strategy, pre-existing stocks in the country and operational aspects of the epidemic response.

How does the ICG manage, procure and purchase vaccine supply stocks?

The ICG ensures that contingency stocks of vaccines are available to immediately respond to a disease outbreak.

The emergency vaccine stockpiles are held at the manufacturer’s storage facilities until their release is decided by the ICG. UNICEF procures and ships vaccines and supplies on behalf of the ICG. IFRC and MSF support the vaccine logistics and roll out of immunization campaigns on the ground.

Who funds the purchase of the vaccines?

Every year countries experiencing outbreaks use the ICG mechanism to rapidly obtain quantities of high quality vaccine supplies at special prices.

Two different funding mechanisms are used to ensure emergency stockpiles of the three vaccines (yellow fever, meningitis and cholera) managed by the ICG.

  • Gavi, the vaccine alliance, finances ICG’s stockpiles of meningitis, yellow fever and cholera vaccines for Gavi eligible countries.
  • A revolving fund mechanism was established in 2010 to replenish the costs of vaccines and supplies in order to ensure continuous availability of vaccines to non-Gavi eligible countries before the beginning of the next epidemic season. The funds are managed and used based on consensus of the ICG members. The revolving fund ensures that the vaccine supplies are sustained should long term funding shortages occur. The revolving fund is supported by a number of donors and international agencies.

What are the roles and responsibilities of recipient countries of ICG vaccine stockpiles?

The decision to release vaccine stocks is grounded in evidence-based criteria that includes; epidemiological evidence of an outbreak, laboratory confirmation of pathogen, cold chain storage capacity, the country’s demonstrated capacity to conduct a vaccination campaign and an accompanying plan of action for mass vaccination. A country must submit this information in full, in order for its request for emergency vaccine supplies to be accepted within 48 hours.

Once the request for vaccine supplies has been accepted, a process is put in place to ship the vaccines and supplies. Prior to shipment, the recipient country must demonstrate that there is enough cold chain capacity to receive and store the vaccines and supplies. The recipient country must also ensure that funds are fully available for operational costs of the immunization campaign. Additionally, customs and regulatory approvals must be granted and provided to the ICG prior to the shipment of the vaccines and supplies.

The W.H.O. says once again that the Ebola epidemic does not meet the criteria for declaring an international public health emergency.


Mozambique: A successful six-day emergency cholera vaccination campaign that reached more than 800 000 people


10 April 2019, Maputo – The Ministry of Health in Mozambique has concluded a successful six-day emergency cholera vaccination campaign that reached more than 800 000 people in four districts affected by Cyclone Idai.

The campaign was supported by around 1200 community volunteers and partners including the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Save the Children.

“From start to finish, this campaign was one of the fastest ever, thanks to experienced people at the Ministry of Health, who knew there was a high risk of a cholera outbreak and made a rapid request for the vaccines as soon as the cyclone hit,” says Dr Djamila Cabral, Head of the WHO office in Mozambique. “The Ministry did an excellent job organizing the campaign and reaching so many people in such a short time. The oral cholera vaccine is one of the vital measures that can help save lives and stop the spread of this terrible disease during an outbreak.”

The oral cholera vaccines, donated by Gavi from the Global Cholera Vaccine Stockpile, arrived in Beira on Tuesday 2 April and, within 24 hours, began reaching people in need.

The vaccines were given to communities identified by the Government at highest risk – those without access to safe water and sanitation – in Beira, Dondo, Nhamatanda and Buzi districts.

Vaccine uptake has been very high and the campaign has been well received by the communities. Remaining vaccines will be used for other at-risk communities that were not reached by the initial campaign.

People develop protection against cholera approximately 7 days after receiving the vaccine. One dose of this oral vaccine provides around 85% protection against cholera for 6 months.

“Controlling cholera in these areas will reduce the risk to the rest of the population because fewer people will be taking it back and forth into the wider community,” says WHO cholera vaccination expert, Kate Alberti, who was deployed to Beira to support the Ministry of Health to organize the campaign.

Dr Nazira Abdula, Minister of Health of Mozambique, acknowledged the great support of WHO and partners for the vaccination campaign. “It’s very difficult to roll out a campaign of this scope in only three days,” she says.

WHO’s Dr Cabral adds: “This campaign would not have been possible without the strong engagement of the local authorities and the communities themselves. The number of volunteers is impressive and, wherever they go, there has been very strong uptake of the vaccine. Everyone is very keen to make this a success to stop cholera in its tracks.”

Since Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique on 14 March, hundreds of thousands of people have been living in temporary settlements without access to safe water and sanitation. The Ministry of Health declared a cholera outbreak on 27 March and, as of 8 April, had reported more than 3577 cases and 6 deaths.

The cholera vaccine is just one tool for the outbreak response. Currently 12 cholera treatment centres, with 500-bed capacity, have been set up by the national authorities and international partners to serve the affected communities. Partners are also supporting the local authorities to provide access to safe water and sanitation in settlements and communities across Sofala Province.

Cholera is endemic in several parts of Sofala province and the cholera outbreak that developed post-Cyclone Idai acts as a reminder that sustainable access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) is the long-term solution to controlling cholera. Acknowledging that every case of cholera is preventable, the Global Task Force on Cholera Control is implementing a Cholera Global Roadmap to 2030, which calls upon development partners and donors to support countries to reduce cholera deaths by 90% by 2030.


WHO launches new global influenza strategy


WHO launches new global influenza strategy

11 March 2019

News Release

WHO today released a Global Influenza Strategy for 2019-2030 aimed at protecting people in all countries from the threat of influenza. The goal of the strategy is to prevent seasonal influenza, control the spread of influenza from animals to humans, and prepare for the next influenza pandemic.

“The threat of pandemic influenza is ever-present.” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The on-going risk of a new influenza virus transmitting from animals to humans and potentially causing a pandemic is real.   The question is not if we will have another pandemic, but when.  We must be vigilant and prepared – the cost of a major influenza outbreak will far outweigh the price of prevention.”

Influenza remains one of the world’s greatest public health challenges. Every year across the globe, there are an estimated 1 billion cases, of which 3 to 5 million are severe cases, resulting in 290 000 to 650 000 influenza-related respiratory deaths. WHO recommends annual influenza vaccination as the most effective way to prevent influenza. Vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of serious influenza complications and for health care workers.

The new strategy is the most comprehensive and far-reaching that WHO has ever developed for influenza.  It outlines a path to protect populations every year and helps prepare for a pandemic through strengthening routine programmes. It has two overarching goals:

  1. Build stronger country capacities for disease surveillance and response, prevention and control, and preparedness. To achieve this, it calls for every country to have a tailored influenza programme that contributes to national and global preparedness and health security.
  2. Develop better tools to prevent, detect, control and treat influenza, such as more effective vaccines, antivirals and treatments, with the goal of making these accessible for all countries.

“With the partnerships and country-specific work we have been doing over the years, the world is better prepared than ever before for the next big outbreak, but we are still not prepared enough,” said Dr Tedros. “This strategy aims to get us to that point. Fundamentally, it is about preparing health systems to manage shocks, and this only happens when health systems are strong and healthy themselves.”

To successfully implement this strategy, effective partnerships are essential.  WHO will expand partnerships to increase research, innovation and availability of new and improved global influenza tools to benefit all countries.  At the same time WHO will work closely with countries to improve their capacities to prevent and control influenza.

The new influenza strategy builds on and benefits from successful WHO programmes.  For more than 65 years, the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS), comprised   of WHO Collaborating Centres and national influenza centres, have worked together to monitor seasonal trends and potentially pandemic viruses. This system serves as the backbone of the global alert system for influenza.

Important to the strategy is the on-going success of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, a unique access and benefit sharing system that supports the sharing of potentially pandemic viruses, provides access to life saving vaccines and treatments in the event of a pandemic and supports the building of pandemic preparedness capacities in countries through partnership contributions from industry.

The strategy meets one of WHO’s mandates to improve core capacities for public health, and increase global preparedness and was developed through a consultative process with input from Member States, academia, civil society, industry, and internal and external experts.

Supporting countries to strengthen their influenza capacity will have collateral benefits in detecting infection in general, since countries will be able to better identify other infectious diseases like Ebola or Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Through the implementation of the new WHO global influenza strategy, the world will be closer to reducing the impact of influenza every year and be more prepared for an influenza pandemic and other public health emergencies.

Streamlining The WHO: Can it be done?


“……The World Health Organization …..announced a long-awaited restructuring intended to streamline the agency — and strongly hinted that it intended to shake up some staffers’ resistance to change.

The announcement, made in a lengthy and mostly cheerful speech delivered jointly by the organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and the directors of the agency’s six regional offices, aims to serve the W.H.O.’s new targets: to get affordable health care to the world’s poorest 1 billion people; to better protect them against epidemics; and to help them enjoy better health, including protection from noncommunicable diseases like cancer…..”

The WHO’s ambitious “triple billion” targets


WHO unveils sweeping reforms in drive towards “triple billion” targets

6 March 2019

News Release

WHO today announced the most wide-ranging reforms in the Organization’s history to modernize and strengthen the institution to play its role more effectively and efficiently as the world’s leading authority on public health.

The changes are designed to support countries in achieving the ambitious “triple billion” targets that are at the heart of WHO’s strategic plan for the next five years: one billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage (UHC); one billion more people better protected from health emergencies; and one billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.

These changes include:

  • Aligning WHO’s processes and structures with the “triple billion” targets and the Sustainable Development Goals by adopting a new structure and operating model to align the work of headquarters, regional offices and country offices, and eliminate duplication and fragmentation.

  • Reinforcing WHO’s normative, standard-setting work, supported by a new Division of the Chief Scientist and improved career opportunities for scientists.

  • Harnessing the power of digital health and innovation by supporting countries to assess, integrate, regulate and maximize the opportunities of digital technologies and artificial intelligence, supported by a new Department of Digital Health.

  • Making WHO relevant in all countries by overhauling the Organization’s capabilities to engage in strategic policy dialogue. This work will be supported by a new Division of Data, Analytics and Delivery to significantly enhance the collection, storage, analysis and usage of data to drive policy change in countries. This division will also track and strengthen the delivery of WHO’s work by monitoring progress towards the “triple billion targets” and identifying roadblocks and solutions.

  • Investing in a dynamic and diverse workforce through new initiatives including the WHO Academy, a proposed state-of-the-art school to provide new learning opportunities for staff and public health professionals globally. Other measures include a streamlined recruitment process to cut hiring time in half,  management trainings, new opportunities for national professional officers, and previously-announced improvements in conditions for interns.

  • Strengthening WHO’s work to support countries in preventing and mitigating the impact of outbreaks and other health crises by creating a new Division of Emergency Preparedness, as a complement to WHO’s existing work on emergency response.

  • Reinforcing a corporate approach to resource mobilization aligned with strategic objectives and driving new fundraising initiatives to diversify WHO’s funding base, reduce its reliance on a small number of large donors and strengthen its long-term financial stability.

“The changes we are announcing today are about so much more than new structures, they’re about changing the DNA of the organization to deliver a measurable impact in the lives of the people we serve,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Our vision remains the same as it was when we were founded in 1948: the highest attainable standard of health for all people. But the world has changed, which is why we have articulated a new mission statement for what the world needs us to do now: to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.”

The new measures were developed following an extensive period of consultation with staff, and were developed jointly by WHO’s Global Policy Group, which consists of the Director-General and each of the organization’s six regional directors: Dr Matshidiso Moeti (Regional Director for Africa), Dr Carissa Etienne (Regional Director for the Americas), Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh (Regional Director for South-East Asia), Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab (Regional Director for Europe), Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari (Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean) and Dr Takeshi Kasai (Regional Director for the Western Pacific).

WHO’s new corporate structure is based on four pillars which will be mirrored throughout the organization.

The Programmes pillar will support WHO’s work on universal health coverage and healthier populations. The Emergencies pillar will be responsible for WHO’s critical health security responsibilities, both in responding to health crises and helping countries prepare for them. The External Relations and Governance pillar will centralize and harmonize WHO’s work on resource mobilization, communications. The Business Operations pillar will likewise ensure more professionalized delivery of key corporate functions such as budgeting, finance, human resources and supply chain.

The four pillars will be supplemented by the Division of the Chief Scientist at WHO Headquarters in Geneva to strengthen WHO’s core scientific work and ensure the quality and consistency of WHO’s norms and standards. 

Underpinning the new structure, 11 business processes have been redesigned, including planning, resource mobilization, external and internal communications, recruitment, supply chain, performance management, norms and standards, research, data and technical cooperation.

The Global Policy Group stressed the role of working with partners. Dr Tedros said WHO must develop a new mindset to seek out and build partnerships that harness the combined strength of the global health community – both in the public and private sectors. One example of this is a new Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All, under which 12 partner organizations are working together to achieve health-related Sustainable Development Goals.

WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme


What is WHO’s role in emergencies?

WHO is committed to saving lives and reducing suffering during times of crisis – whether caused by conflict, disease outbreak or a disaster. The new WHO Health Emergencies Programme addresses the full risk management cycle, meaning it works with countries to address emergencies before they happen by working on prevention and preparedness, helps in the response to the emergency, and also, once the initial event has passed, on recovery. The new Programme builds on WHO’s years of experience working with countries in emergencies.

What is the new WHO Health Emergencies Programme?

Requested and approved by Member States, the new WHO Health Emergencies Programme is a profound change for WHO, adding operational capabilities to our traditional technical and normative roles. The Programme works with countries and partners to prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from all hazards that create health emergencies, including disasters, disease outbreaks and conflicts. The Programme will also lead and coordinate the international health response to contain disease outbreaks and provide effective relief and recovery to affected people.

Why is the WHO Health Emergencies Programme needed?

Worldwide, a record 130 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and disease outbreaks are a constant global threat.

To meet the immediate health needs of crisis-affected populations at the same time as addressing the underlying causes of their vulnerability, WHO must be part of a broader change in the way the international community prevents, prepares for, and responds to crises.

What are some of the key changes and achievements within the Programme so far?

Since 1 August 2016, WHO has operated under new emergency-management processes for risk assessment, grading of emergencies and incident management. Recent emergency responses have seen the Programme continually tested and adjusted. Significant progress has been made in areas such as risk assessment and grading, coordination of WHO’s response at headquarters, regional offices and country offices through an Incident Management System, and the rapid release of funds from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies. Lessons are being applied to adapt and improve the processes.

Hurricane Matthew in Haiti

In response to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, WHO/PAHO quickly established 2 new field offices, deployed multinational teams of experts to support the government’s efforts to provide health services to affected areas, and sent essential supplies and medicines. Anticipating increased numbers of cholera outbreaks, WHO/PAHO prepositioned cholera supplies in at-risk areas. WHO/PAHO also evaluated health structures and services in Haiti to prioritize needs.

Yellow fever outbreak in Africa

WHO and partners supported the vaccination of at least 17 million people this year in response to the yellow fever outbreak in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in complex campaigns that came together in a matter of weeks.

Response to Zika virus

Within 10 days of the declaration of Zika and its associated complications being declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, WHO worked with 23 agencies to develop a common strategic and operational plan. WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies was used for rapid initial cash disbursement. WHO developed and rapidly distributed guidance to help countries in all aspects of the Zika response, from caring for affected infants, to eliminating mosquitoes, to strengthening health services for pregnant women living in affected areas.

Conflict in north eastern Nigeria

In north eastern Nigeria, within 6 weeks of scaling up its emergency operations, WHO supported setting up a disease alert system in 160 health facilities which serve 85% of the 1.6 million displaced people in Borno state.

How does WHO work with partners in emergencies?

The Health Emergencies Programme 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: More than 300 partners responding in 24 crisis-affected countries.
  • Emergency Medical Teams: More than 60 teams from 25 countries classified by WHO to provide clinical care in wake of emergencies, with the number expected to rise to 200 soon.
  • Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN): Since 2000, approximately 2 500 health personnel in response to over 130 public health emergencies in 80 countries.
  • Standby partners: In 2015, WHO’s Standby Partners deployed 207 months of personnel support to 18 countries.
  • Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC): WHO is an active member of IASC, the primary mechanism for inter-agency coordination relating to humanitarian assistance in response to complex and major emergencies under the leadership of the Emergency Relief Coordinator.

How does WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme support countries?

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.

What is the structure of the new Programme?

The Programme has a common structure across the organization, in country offices, regional offices and headquarters. This is 1 Emergencies Programme, with

  • 1 workforce
  • 1 budget
  • 1 line of accountability
  • 1 set of processes/systems
  • 1 set of benchmarks.

The Programme’s structure reflects WHO’s major functions and responsibilities in health emergency risk assessment and management. This structure and related results expected are the same in headquarters and in regional offices and country offices.

The Programme is made up of 5 technical and operational departments. Their titles and specific outcomes are:

  • Infectious hazards management: ensure strategies and capacities are established for priority high-threat infectious hazards.
  • Country health emergency preparedness and the International Health Regulations (2005): ensure country capacities are established for all-hazards emergency risk management.
  • Health emergency information and risk assessments: provide timely and authoritative situation analysis, risk assessment and response monitoring for all major health threats and events.
  • Emergency operations: ensure emergency-affected populations have access to an essential package of life-saving health services.
  • Emergency core services: ensure WHO emergency operations are rapidly and sustainably financed and staffed.

The Programme will dedicate more than 1000 core WHO staff to work on emergencies. It will harness WHO’s experience and technical expertise on all health hazards at all levels of the Organization to coordinate the international responses to health emergencies worldwide.

How much funding is required for the new Programme?

Financing the work of the new WHO Health Emergencies Programme will require a combination of core financing for baseline staff and activities at the 3 levels of the Programme, financing of 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 needs to implement the normative, technical, and operations-management capacities and activities reflected in the new results framework for the Health Emergencies Programme. To implement the core activities of the new Health Emergencies Programme WHO must raise US$ 485 million in 2016–2017: at present a gap of 44% remains.

Funding for the core budget comes from 3 sources:

  • Assessed contributions: The annual quotas paid by Member States to support the work of the Organization.
  • 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.
  • Earmarked contributions: Voluntary contributions earmarked for the core budget of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme or specific activities within it.

Appeals linked to Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs) currently have a funding gap of 66% of the total requirement of US$ 656 million.

The third basket of funding, the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE), a replenishable fund which facilitates cash flow in the initial 3 months of response to an emergency (before donor funding arrives), has raised US$ 31.5 million of its US$ 100 million target.

What is the Joint External Evaluation?

The Joint External Evaluation (JEE) was developed to assist in evaluating a country’s capacity under International Health Regulations (2005) to prevent, detect, and respond to high-threat infectious hazards. The tool is arranged according to the following core elements:

  • preventing and reducing the likelihood of outbreaks and other public health hazards and events defined by International Health Regulations (2005) is essential;
  • detecting threats early can save lives; and
  • rapid, effective response requires multi-sectoral, national and international coordination and communication.

Country participation in the JEE process is voluntary, and it takes into account a multisectoral approach by both the external teams and the host countries, with an emphasis on transparency and openness of data, information sharing, and the public release of reports.

The JEE incorporates the targets and indicators of the “Global Health Security Agenda” and additional elements needed to fully cover the International Health Regulations (2005) core capacities. Countries are supported in measuring their progress in achieving the targets of the International Health Regulations (2005), ensuring any improvements can be sustained, and identifying the most urgent needs within their health security system, to prioritize opportunities for enhanced preparedness, response and action. The JEE also provides a basis for countries to engage with current and prospective donors and partners, to target resources effectively.

Who will monitor the success of the Programme?

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 Programme, guide the Programme’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 Programme’s key functions in health emergencies (including all 5 pillars of the work of the Programme, for example, including both emergency operations and core services).
  • Determine the appropriateness and adequacy of the Programme’s financing and resourcing.
  • Provide advice to the Director-General.
  • Review the Programme’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 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 Programme management team to help guide its work. They will also assess and influence the work of the programme through engagement with member states.

WHO: The health of displaced people in Europe


Copenhagen, Geneva, 21 January 2019

Migrants and refugees are likely to have good general health, but they can be at risk of falling sick in transition or while staying in receiving countries due to poor living conditions or adjustments in their lifestyle. This is the main conclusion of the first “Report on the health of refugees and migrants in the WHO European Region”, released by the WHO Regional Office for Europe today.

“Today, political and social systems are struggling to rise to the challenge of responding to displacement and migration in a humane and positive way. This report is the first of its kind, and gives us a snapshot of the health of refugees and migrants in the WHO European Region, at a time when the migration phenomenon is expanding across the world,” says Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

The report summarizes the latest available evidence on the health of refugees and migrants in the WHO European Region – from a review of more than 13 000 documents – and the progress countries have made to promote their health. It was developed in partnership with the Italian National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty (INMP).

Vulnerability to noncommunicable and communicable diseases

Refugees and migrants appear to be less affected than their host populations by many noncommunicable diseases on arrival; however, if they are in conditions of poverty, the duration of their stay in host countries increases their risk for cardiovascular diseases, stroke or cancer. As migrants and refugees are likely to change their lifestyle to engage in less physical activity and consume less healthy food, they are also more prone to risk factors for chronic diseases.

The displacement processes itself can make refugees and migrants more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Yet the report underlines that, for instance, the proportion of refugees and migrants among a host country’s tuberculosis (TB) cases varies broadly depending on the TB prevalence in the host population; and that a significant proportion of migrants and refugees who are HIV positive acquired the infection after they arrived in Europe. Despite the widespread assumption to the contrary, there is only a very low risk of refugees and migrants transmitting communicable diseases to their host population.

“The new report provides insight into what must be done to meet the health needs of both migrants and refugees and the host population. As migrants and refugees become more vulnerable than the host population to the risk of developing both noncommunicable and communicable diseases, it is necessary that they receive timely access to quality health services, as everyone else. This is the best way to save lives and cut treatment costs, as well as protect the health of the resident citizens,” stresses Dr Jakab.

Key findings and myths exposed

  • International migrants make up only 10% (90.7 million) of the total population in the WHO European Region. Less than 7.4% of these are refugees. In some European countries, citizens estimate that there are 3 or 4 times more migrants than there really are.
  • While communicable diseases are commonly linked with displacement and migration, there is a growing awareness that a range of acute and chronic conditions also require attention.
  • Refugees and migrants are at lower risk for all forms of cancer, except cervical cancer. However, cancer in refugees and migrants is more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, which can lead to considerably worse health outcomes than those of the host population.
  • Depression and anxiety tend to affect refugees and migrants more than host populations. However, variation by migrant group and in the methods used to assess prevalence make it hard to draw firm conclusions.
  • In general, refugees and migrants have a higher incidence, prevalence and mortality rate for diabetes than the host population, with higher rates in women.
  • Refugees and migrants are potentially at greater risk of developing infectious diseases because of their exposure to infections, lack of access to health care, interrupted care and poor living conditions during the migration process. It is therefore necessary to protect them and to ensure that health-care workers on the front line understand the risks.
  • While refugees and migrants may arrive in Europe with incomplete or interrupted immunization, vaccination uptake is likely to increase with the duration of their stay. The immediate response to new arrivals is to ensure that they receive basic vaccines based on the schedule of the host country.
  • *Access to social and health services varies across the WHO European Region, with legal status, language barriers and discrimination generally being influential factors.
  • *Unaccompanied minors are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and experience higher rates of depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • *Male migrants experience significantly more work-related injuries than non-migrant workers.

A series of guidance documents was also developed to translate the report’s findings into practice. Each addresses a specific aspect of the health of refugees and migrants by providing tools, case studies and evidence to inform practices and policies to improve health. They focus on the areas of maternal and newborn health, children’s health, health promotion, mental health and healthy ageing. The documents were produced with financial support from the European Commission.

Towards refugee- and migrant-friendly health systems

Countries in the WHO European Region are making progress in implementing the Strategy and action plan for refugee and migrant health, adopted in 2016 by the WHO Regional Committee for Europe to guide progress on the health aspects of population movement. However, more needs to be done to progress towards refugee- and migrant-friendly health systems, including:

  • providing quality and affordable health coverage as well as social protection for all refugees and migrants regardless of their legal status;
  • making health systems culturally and linguistically sensitive to address communication barriers;
  • ensuring health-care workers are well equipped and experienced to diagnose and manage common infectious and noninfectious diseases;
  • enhancing multisectoral action on refugee and migrant health; and
  • improving systematic and routine collection of comparable data on refugee and migrant health.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe and partners will continue to support the implementation of the Strategy and action plan, and to assist countries in filling potential gaps in health service delivery. This includes training health-care staff, providing technical assistance, carrying out joint public health and health system assessment missions, and providing policy recommendations using the WHO toolkit to prepare for large influxes of refugees and migrants.

WHO warns against a counter­feit anti-rabies vaccine now circulating in the Philippines.

Manila Post

“….The WHO said that “two falsified vaccines have so far been discovered.” It said that Verorab vaccines with batch number NIE35 and H1833 are counterfeit.….”

WHO Humanitarian Crisis Response Plans: 2018. How successful was it and what about 2019?


The WHO Humanitarian Response Plans for 2018 are based on rigorous assessment and analysis of need in 26 countries. The plans include an overview of the situation, WHO’s objectives to address the health aspects of the crisis, and the funds that will be required to do so. They form part of the overall humanitarian response plans developed by partners in the wider humanitarian response.

Reviewing 2017 • In 2017, humanitarian agencies reached more people in need than ever before: tens of millions of them, saving millions of lives; • Donors provided record levels of funding to Humanitarian Response Plans—nearly $13 billion by the end of November; • Humanitarian agencies helped stave off famines in South Sudan, Somalia, north-east Nigeria and Yemen, through effective scale-up and the rapid release of funds by donors; • Agencies stepped up to provide rapid assistance to refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar; and • Mobilized to support countries in the Caribbean to prepare for and respond to successive hurricanes of a ferocity rarely seen before. • Despite conflict and other constraints complicating the provision of assistance, plans were implemented effectively, with costs averaging approximately $230 a year per person for essential needs.

In 2018 • Conflict will continue to be the main driver of humanitarian needs. • Protracted violence will force people to flee from their homes, deny them access to enough food, and rob them of their means of making a living. • Droughts, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters will also create humanitarian needs. Although the risk of El Niño or La Niña is low next year, some scientists forecast an increased risk of earthquakes in 2018. • In a number of countries, humanitarian needs will fall, but still remain significant, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Mali, and Ukraine. • However, needs are rising substantially in Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. • And needs will remain at exceptionally high levels in Nigeria, South Sudan, the Syria region, and Yemen, which is likely to remain the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. • Overall, 136 million people across the world will need humanitarian assistance and protection. • UN-coordinated response plans costed at $22.5 billion can help 91 million. • The overall number of people in need is more than 5% higher than in the 2017 GHO. The cost of the response plans sets a new record, about 1% higher than at the start of 2017. • Humanitarian agencies will become more effective, efficient and cost-effective. They will respond faster to crises, in a way more attuned to the needs of those they are trying to help. They will undertake more comprehensive, cross-sectoral and impartial needs assessments. They will also contribute more to long-term solutions by working more closely with development agencies. • Larger country-based pooled funds will improve the agility and prioritised use of funds in the places where they operate. An expanded Central Emergency Response Fund will better support the least-funded major crises.


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