WHO Sets up Contingency Funds for Healthcare Emergencies

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Margaret Chan

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The World Health Organisation has set up a contingency fund to help the world respond better to healthcare emergences such as the outbreak of Ebola virus disease

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Jun 1, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT  |

THE World Health Organisation, WHO, is setting up a $100 million contingency fund to tackle health care emergencies in the developing countries of the world. Margaret Chan, director general, WHO, made this known while declaring open the 68th World Health Assembly on Tuesday, May 19. She said with the contingency fund, the agency and the world will not be taken by surprise again as they had with the outbreak of Ebola virus disease, EVD, cholera, meningitis and other diseases.

“With the support of member states, I am establishing a $100 million contingency fund, financed by flexible voluntary contributions, to ensure we have the necessary resources available to immediately mount an initial response. I am making the following five changes: I am creating a unified WHO programme for health emergencies, accountable to me. I am establishing clear performance metrics for the programme, built on partnerships with other responders. I am establishing a global health emergency workforce, and I am strengthening our core and surge capacity of trained emergency response staff. I am developing new business processes to facilitate a rapid and effective response.

I have proposed options for a new $100 million contingency fund. I do not ever again want to see this organization faced with a situation it is not prepared, staffed, funded, or administratively set up to manage. We will move forward on an urgent footing. I plan to complete these changes by the end of the year. Countries need well-functioning health systems that can withstand shocks, whether these are caused by a changing climate, a runaway virus, or an overload of patients with non-communicable diseases. As a defense against the infectious disease threat, countries also need the core capacities required to implement the International Health Regulations. Doing so is critical to the global health security agenda,” she said.

Fidelis Nwankwo
Nwankwo

Chan also commended Nigeria’s efforts on Polio eradication, stating that the world is now closer than ever to polio eradication. According to her, the situation in Nigeria looks extremely encouraging, with no cases reported for the past nine months. She noted that Afghanistan and Pakistan have both made great strides despite severe challenges, adding that this is one initiative that must not fail.

On his part, Fidelis Nwankwo, Nigeria’s minister of state for health, thanked the WHO and its leadership for its work and especially for its handling of the various global health challenges. He observed that the efforts of the World Health Organisation are in line with Nigeria’s own national goals and objectives. The minister informed the assembly that the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, which was established in 2012 has been expanded and strengthened to provide infrastructure and capacity to respond to public health threats.

Nwankwo said it was Nigeria’s expectation that the Centre could be further adapted to serve as one of the hubs of the African Centres for Disease Control that would provide the requisite system that could respond to any threats to public health in the African region. The minister used the occasion to highlight some of Nigeria’s achievements in the health sector, recalling that, although, Nigeria was one of the countries that was affected by the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, it was however, the first country to be certified EVD free by the World Health Organisation on October 20, 2014.

He maintained that the success the country recorded in containing the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak remains a remarkable feat, pointing out that political leadership, a command and control structure, multi-sectorial engagement and support of development partners were all critical to Nigeria’s success. He noted that Nigeria extended similar solidarity and support to its neighbours who were contending with the Ebola epidemic by sending more than 250 volunteers to Liberia and Sierra Leone, which he observed, was the largest contingent of the African Union mission to help support Ebola containment efforts.

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