GENEVA - The World Health Organization reports investigations into potential health threats and the quick response by WHO and partners to global emergencies has protected millions of the world’s most vulnerable people this year from disease and death.
In 2019, the World Health Organization and partners have responded to 51 emergencies in more than 40 countries and territories and have investigated 440 potential health threats in 138 countries and territories.
After the headlines evoking these emergencies have faded away, the work of helping the victims of manmade and natural disasters recover carries on out of the media spotlight.
Executive Director of WHO Emergencies Program, Michael Ryan, says the unseen work of sustaining fragile health systems in conflicts and other emergencies does not stop.
“In Bangladesh, we work with partners to address the health needs of nearly one million Rohingya refugees living in the crowded camps in Cox’s Bazar," said Ryan. "The mortality rate in this highly vulnerable population has remained at low levels…These crude death rates remain well below what is considered acceptable in this situation…And, that is down to a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”
Ryan says WHO and partners have provided health services to more than 10 million people in Yemen. He says over one million children have been protected from vaccine-preventable diseases and more than 100,000 have been treated for severe acute malnutrition.
“In Uganda, Ebola transmission was prevented after cases crossed from DRC on two separate occasions," said Ryan. "And, the preparedness work that has been going on in surrounding countries…Uganda, with the support of the international community spent $18 million on preparedness and stopped Ebola twice.”
The World Health Organization estimates more than one billion dollars will be spent to root out the deadly Ebola virus, which has been circulating in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since August 2018. The latest number of reported cases stands at 3,366, including 2,227 deaths.
Other emergencies to which WHO has responded over the past year include the cyclone in Mozambique, conflict emergencies in Syria and South Sudan, floods in Iran, an earthquake in Albania, and a deadly measles outbreak on the small Pacific island of Samoa.