Humanitarian Health Action

Editorial

Monthly Highlights - January 2011

Young men search for bodies in the neighbourhood of Fort National in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince, March 2010.
IRIN/Nancy Palus
Young men search for bodies in the neighbourhood of Fort National in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince, March 2010.

Speaking of the earthquake that struck Haiti a year ago, the WHO Director-General recently said that the response to the disaster had stretched the capacities of the humanitarian community to the limit. The earthquake however was just one of a number of major disasters, such as the floods in Pakistan, that challenged the global emergency response in 2010.

It is important for the international community to take stock of this year’s experience and derive lessons from it to improve work. Under the compelling force of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, both the Health Cluster and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) have begun to undertake such analyses.

In 2010, HAC initiated the formulation of a revised business model for WHO’s work in emergencies. This initiative is progressing with support from the Humanitarian Futures Programme, King’s College. The aim is to develop a business model that reflects the vision and scope for change. The model needs to take into account the demands of increasingly complex and frequent humanitarian crises and to ensure that WHO’s Health Action in Crises has the means to achieve optimal impact for the millions of people affected by human-made and natural disasters.

Following the IASC Principals Meeting in December, the Emergency Relief Coordinator announced that the IASC is to develop a new business model for the humanitarian response at large. HAC, on behalf of WHO, will contribute to this process. We need to take advantage of this opportunity of policy reformulation within the health sector and within the wider humanitarian arena to provide a timely, quality and effective response.

At the beginning of the year, it is important to assess the strategic scope of the health component of the Humanitarian Appeal for 2011, to set priorities and to mobilize adequate resources to meet the most pressing needs. Swift interventions will be required if we are to save lives and protect vulnerable populations. The health sector will require US$ 948 094 463, or approximately 12.7% of the total Appeal, in order to respond to the most urgent needs of 50 million people in 14 countries and regions.

This month’s Highlights begins with a section dedicated to one year of response in Haiti. It then provides an overview of health needs in Côte d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries as well as an update on the health situation in Southern Sudan following the referendum.

The Highlights proceeds with summaries of the main activities of the Global Health Cluster and of the WHO’s Mediterranean Centre for Health Risk Reduction (WMC) in 2010, followed by a section devoted to the health sector requirements in the Humanitarian Appeal for 2011. The Highlights concludes by presenting the main interagency issues, particularly the development of the IASC business model for humanitarian response.

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