Humanitarian Health Action

Strengthening logistics capacities for health in emergencies

Monthly Highlights - September 2010

Logistics is a critical component of any operational programme. This is especially true in emergency and crisis settings, where the deployment of staff, equipment and supplies must be backed up by emergency funds, staff rosters, logistics systems, standard operating procedures, partnerships and technical support. WHO/HAC, in close collaboration with country, regional and headquarters counterparts, is responsible for continuing the development and maintenance of such a platform.

To achieve the predictability and operational efficiency requested in the humanitarian reform, WHO is using and strengthening a network of logistics hubs. These are used to position stocks and operational support closer to the countries where they are required in an emergency. Medicines and supplies needed for an effective response are packed as standard kits with different profiles to meet priority health needs in disaster situations.

A network of logistics hubs was built on the WFP regional hubs, known as the UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) network. The UNHRD network provides storage, logistics support and services to UN humanitarian agencies and international humanitarian, governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Each UNHRD can deliver humanitarian relief items worldwide within 48 hours.

WHO stores strategic reserves of health response material and equipment in UNHRDs Brindisi (Italy), Dubai (UAE) and Accra (Ghana) and will expand its stocks to UNHRDs Panama and Subang (Malaysia). Planning for extending the range and quantity of health kits and other equipment to better support health emergency operations is ongoing.

The map below shows the five locations and potential areas of coverage from the UNHRDs.

During the first half of 2010, WHO/HAC’s Emergency Operations Support mobilized more than US$ 8 million worth of emergency kits, medical, laboratory and hospital supplies, and operational support equipment for emergency operations in Africa, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia. These supplies included:

  • health care for more than 2 000 000 people for three months;
  • treatment for 102 000 people with severe diarrhoeal diseases;
  • supplies for 5100 trauma interventions; and
  • 588 500 doses of vaccines.

The graph below gives global overview of the emergency items released by the hubs from 1 January to 27 September 2010.

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