Humanitarian Health Action

WHO’s logistics response to the floods

Photo: Aphaluck Bhatiasevi

WHO is leading the Health Cluster and coordinating the health response in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. Given the magnitude of the disaster and the number of affected people, the need for medicines and supplies is enormous. Over the first 3 months, WHO shipped 2400 Emergency Health Kits, providing supplies for 4.8 million people, and a further 900 Diarrhoeal Disease Kits which can cover the needs of 90 000 severe diarrhoeal cases or 450 000 moderate cases.

Procuring all these kits would have been an unworkable challenge if, following the last two major emergencies – the 2005 earthquake and last year’s IDPs crisis – many of the essential steps for such an undertaking had not already been in place, making the whole procedure much more efficient. The WHO Country Office immediately followed the WHO procedure to prequalify local suppliers and build a temperature-controlled warehouse in Islamabad. To cope with this huge scale emergency, two more warehouses were installed and a production chain was setup to assemble the kits. Prequalified drugs are locally purchased and quickly delivered to WHO warehouses for the assembling kits. Stocks are prepositioned at five WHO hubs within the country and kits are delivered to partners on requests prior approval by the Health Cluster Coordinator of the area.

This is a new way of operating in WHO and it shows the confidence of donors in WHO logistics in emergency operations. However, the Pakistan setup is unique and a lot must be done on preparedness for other regions and countries at risk in order to be more cost-effective. The example of Haiti logistics support to Health Cluster partners was also successful in terms of response and supply but not really in terms of cost effectiveness. All kits had to be flown from Europe to ensure a constant supply chain.