Emergency preparedness and response in the African Region: current situation and way forward
Abstract1. The WHO African Region continues to be challenged by frequent conflicts and natural emergency events causing injury, death, population displacement, destruction of health facilities and disruption of services, often leading to disasters. The total economic loss resulting from disaster-related deaths in the Region in 2007 is estimated at US$ 117.2 million.1 During 2008 over 12 million refugees and Internally Displaced Persons were registered2 compared with about 6 million in 1997.3 In 2009 in the Horn of Africa, about 23 million people required humanitarian food aid,4 and more than 1.5 million people in 26 countries were affected by floods.5 2. In 1997, the Forty-seventh session of the Regional Committee adopted Resolution AFR/RC47/R1 on the Regional Strategy for Emergency and Humanitarian Action. The five-year strategy called on all Member States to strengthen their institutional capacity for Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) through self-reliance. 3. Recent major disasters including tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004 have prompted the emergence of new global initiatives aimed at further strengthening of EPR. The World Conference on disaster reduction in Hyogo, Japan, in 2005, adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015.6 It calls on all nations to support the creation and strengthening of multisectoral national platforms for EPR to ensure coordinated action on disaster risk reduction. In addition, the International Health Regulations (2005) provide a framework for implementing alert and response activities to control international outbreaks and other public health risks and emergencies. 4. In 2005 a United Nations independent commission proposed reforms in the management of humanitarian response.7 These reforms were subsequently adopted in 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly.8 The reforms focus on three areas namely: (a) building strong UN leadership at the field level; (b) improving efficiency, accountability and coordination of interventions through sectoral working groups (Humanitarian Clusters) and; (c) creating predictable sources of funding to facilitate effectiveness of humanitarian response. 5. In line with the Hyogo Framework for Action and the principles underpinning humanitarian reform, Member States adopted World Health Assembly Resolution WHA59.22 on EPR in 2006. The resolution requests Member States to further strengthen their national EPR programmes with a special focus on building health systems and increasing community resilience. The establishment of the African Public Health Emergency Fund, as requested in Resolution AFR/RC59/R5 adopted in 2009 by the Fifty-ninth session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, will further improve the funding of EPR.
Regional Committee for Africa, 60. (2011). Emergency preparedness and response in the African Region: current situation and way forward. http://www.who.int/iris/handle/10665/1679