WHO in emergencies

A Rohingya boy tries to hang a cloth to cover them from rain in the streets as they wait for relief.

WHO responds to urgent needs in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh

19 September - Since 25 August more than  400,000 people are estimated to have crossed from Myanmar to Bangladesh following violence in Rakhine state, Myanmar. To address the health needs of this vulnerable population WHO is providing governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar essential drugs and medical supplies, cholera kits, emergency medical kits and water purification tablets.

EPA/A. Abdullah

WHO helps meet critical health needs of displaced populations in Syrian Arab Republic

18 September 2017 – People fleeing escalating violence continues to create an ever-growing number of displaced people - now more than half of the 180 000 people living in Al-Tabqa city alone are internally displaced. In response to the critical health needs for this massive influx of people WHO delivered more than 7 tons of medicines and emergency medical supplies to Al-Tabqa national hospital. The medical supplies are sufficient to treat more than 16 000 patients and 100 trauma cases.


Seham’s struggles

5 September 2017 – Seham was just 6 years old when she was first diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. Together with her parents, she travelled hundreds of kilometres in search of diagnosis and treatment, from her home in Razeh District in Sa’ada governorate in Yemen’s north, to Hajjah and Sana’a in the country’s west.

Accessing dialysis has always been tricky in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. But the conflict has created additional challenges, with health facilities facing a shortage of dialysis supplies and travel complicated by checkpoints and insecurity.

Sadeq Al-Wesabi/WHO Yemen

Rapidly responding to cholera in north-eastern Nigeria

30 August 2017 – WHO and partners are moving swiftly to help health authorities contain a cholera outbreak in a camp for internally displaced people in north-eastern Nigeria. A total of 69 cases have been reported in a camp on the outskirts of the state capital Maiduguri, which is home to 44 000 people displaced by conflict and famine.

Health worker holds up a sign reading

Health workers are not a target.

August 2017 - There were 594 reported attacks on health care between 2014 and 2015 that resulted in 959 deaths and 1561 injuries across 19 countries in conflict. The impact of this kind of an attack is felt from families to communities and entire health systems. Every hospital destroyed and every health worker killed or injured takes years of health services away from the people who need them most. Stop attacks on health care.


WHO and partners take on malaria: the top killer in north-eastern Nigeria

4 August 2017 – WHO estimates up to 10 000 lives could be saved by November through malaria prevention and control. A new programme, launched by WHO and partners, will disseminate antimalarial drugs to those most vulnerable in the population. Community health workers will also be trained to provide a basic package of health services to communities that have not had consistent health access for several years.

WHO Nigeria/L. Ozor

Where we work

Map showing emergencies around the world that has a WHO grading, 2016.

WHO has an essential role to play in supporting Member States to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies with public health consequences. Grading is an internal WHO process that is conducted to inform the Organization of the extent, complexity and duration of required support, prompt all WHO offices at all levels to be ready to repurpose resources and trigger WHO’s Emergency Response Procedures and emergency policies.

How we work

WHO team provides health services in north-eastern Nigeria
WHO/P. Ajello

From prevention through preparedness to early warning, response, and early recovery, the WHO Health Emergencies programme represents a fundamental change for WHO, complementing its traditional technical and normative capacities with new operational capabilities.


Health crisis in Central African Republic.
WHO/C. Black

WHO would like to thank all of the contributors that provide funding or in-kind contribution for WHO’s work for emergencies. More information about funding requirements and contributions:


Food insecurity and famine

Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan and the food security situation is of grave concern in 7 other countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, and Yemen. Health is a key component in the response to famine.


Iraq crisis

Iraq’s health system is faltering because of the conflict, displacement and disease outbreaks. WHO is leading the response to provide emergency health access people affected by the crises. Health cluster partners have been coordinated, mobilized and supported with critical pharmaceuticals to sustain the response in the country.

Nigeria crisis

Humanitarian crisis in Nigeria

WHO is scaling up an emergency response to assess and respond to the health needs of thousands of people in north eastern Nigeria, formerly held by militant insurgency groups. More than half of the health facilities in Borno State, the area most severely affected, are not functioning.

South Sudan

South Sudan crisis

WHO is leading the response to provide emergency health access to victims of the clashes. Health cluster partners have been coordinated, mobilized and provided support with critical pharmaceuticals to sustain the response in the country.

Syrian Arab Republic

Syrian Arab Republic crisis

WHO continues to support health care services for people in need, especially those living in besieged areas. WHO focuses on lifesaving health care, while vigorously calling on all parties to allow for the immediate and safe evacuation of the sick and wounded.


Yemen crisis

The escalating conflict has put pressure on the health system and the vulnerable population seeking health care. WHO and health partners have provided over 750 million tons of essential medicines and equipment and deployed 50 mobile teams and 20 fixed facility teams to 11 governorates.

Zika virus

Zika virus and complications

WHO is working with countries in mobilizing and coordinating experts and resources to enhance surveillance of Zika virus and disorders that could be linked to it, to improve vector control, to effectively communicate risks, to provide medical care, to fast-track research and development of vaccines and diagnostics.


Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

WHO is working with clinicians and scientists in affected countries to gather and share scientific evidence to better understand the virus and the disease it causes, and to determine outbreak response priorities, treatment strategies, and clinical management approaches.


Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

Post-emergency and recovery

Yellow fever vaccination, Sudan
WHO/C. Banluta

WHO supports countries through the recovery stage of an outbreak or crisis situation to maintain and rebuild health services, which may have suffered as a result of the emergency.

R&D Blueprint

A research and development Blueprint for action to prevent epidemics

The R&D Blueprint is a global strategy and preparedness plan to ensure that targeted R&D can strengthen the emergency response by bringing medical technologies to patients during epidemics.