GHC WHA Statement on Agenda Item 14.6 – WHO response in severe, large-scale emergencies

Honorable Chair and Members of the Assembly,

Thank you for the opportunity to address the WHO response to severe large-scale emergencies.  I am speaking on behalf of the Global Heath Council and the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, which is comprised of more than 30 health, civil society and professional organizations dedicated to promoting the security of health workers and services threatened by war or civil unrest. This week the Coalition issued a report on attacks on health care services in 2015 and early 2016 in 19 countries.  Its findings, of widespread assaults, abductions, killings of health workers and attacks on the facilities where they work, are alarming and call out for action.

We welcome the restructured emergency response framework and the Director General’s report of activities in emergencies as a more effective means of responding and of informing Member States of its activities. We encourage this important work and reporting to the Assembly.

I would like to share two observations.  First it is clear from the report that Secretariat needs both the authority and additional funding to meet assessed needs and provide life-saving health care to millions of people who are not being served. Member states need to provide the secretariat with the resources and the authority so WHO can perform its proper function in emergencies.

Second, I would like to highlight an important element of WHO’s role in emergencies: the protection of health care.  WHO has been increasingly active in advocacy against attacks, identification and implementation of measures to reduce risks of attacks, and collecting and reporting quantitative and qualitative data on attacks. Given the extent of the horrors, it is imperative for WHO to continue and indeed expand this work including more systematic data collection and reporting.

Thank you very much.