Two-and-a-half billion dollars: that’s how much funding the UN World Health Organization (WHO) will need across its operations this year, it said on Monday, to help a record number of people facing disease and starvation.
In its appeal, the WHO said that a staggering 339 million people now need humanitarian assistance globally.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the UN agency’s Director-General, urged donors “to be generous” and help WHO to save lives, prevent the spread of disease within and across borders, and support communities as they rebuild.
Today, WHO staff are providing assistance in 54 health crises around the world, 11 of which are classified as Grade 3, WHO’s highest level of emergency, requiring the most comprehensive response.
“As it is often the case, the most vulnerable are the worst-hit,” the UN agency said in a statement.
Responding in all crisis situations
The UN agency is already working in an “unprecedented” number of emergencies, from the fall-out of devastating flooding in Pakistan, to catastrophic food insecurity across the Sahel and in the greater Horn of Africa.
The WHO is also heavily involved in alleviating suffering in Ukraine following the Russian invasion and it continues to work in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and northern Ethiopia, where conflict, COVID-19 and climate change have dangerously disrupted health care access.
The main hospital in Izyum, in the Kharkiv region, has been almost completely destroyed, leaving tens of thousands of people struggling to access essential services. .
“This unprecedented convergence of crises demands an unprecedented response,” said Tedros. “More people than ever before face the imminent risk of disease and starvation and need help now. The world cannot look away and hope these crises resolve themselves.”
In 2022, WHO’s assistance to communities in conjunction with local and national authorities, non-governmental authorities and civil society organizations included medicines and other key supplies, training for health professionals, vaccines, enhanced disease surveillance, mobile clinics, mental health support, maternal health consultations and more.
“WHO delivers cost-effective, high-impact responses that protect health, lives and livelihoods,” the agency insisted. “Every $1 invested in WHO generates at least $35 in return on investment.”
According to the WHO website, the UN agency is responding to Grade 3 health emergencies in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the greater Horn of Africa, Northern Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. The COVID-19 pandemic and mpox outbreaks are also Grade 3 emergencies.