WHO in emergencies

Flooding in Somalia raises concern about cholera in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak

14 May 2020 – While Somalia deals with one of the world's biggest public health threats from COVID-19, which has so far claimed 52 lives in the country and infected 1219 people in less than 2 months, the country is also facing floods in the north that have killed 24 people and affected over 700 000 people in 24 districts. The flood has also displaced almost 283 000 people. Although all the 6 states have been affected by this flash flood, 3 states – Hirshabelle, Jubaland, Southwest and Puntland states – are worst affected. The flooding resulted from a sharp rise in the level of the Shabelle river following heavy and incessant rains in Somalia and Ethiopian highlands, which started in late April. As of 10 May, water levels reached 7.93 metres, which are 0.37 metres below the bank's full level of 8.30 metres.

Migrants in Yemen face growing protection risks as a result of COVID-19 fears

WHO, IOM raise concern over COVID-19 discrimination against migrants in Yemen

10 May 2020 Cairo – COVID-19’s presence in Yemen was officially confirmed on 10 April. Nearly a month later, Sana’a city’s first case was announced, that of a Somali refugee. Migrants in the country are being stigmatized as “transmitters of disease”. Xenophobia and scapegoating campaigns are leading to retaliation against these vulnerable communities, including physical and verbal harassment, forced quarantine, denial of access to health services, movement restrictions, and forced movements to frontline and desert areas, leaving them stranded without food, water and essential services.


WHO supports accelerated response efforts for contact tracing in Somalia as cases surge

11 May 2020 – As the laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 surge in Somalia, the country has also intensified its operations response to contain the epidemic. The WHO country office in support of this intensified response operations has deployed over 4000 community health care workers, each having to visit at least 5000 households every month for active case identification and contact tracing throughout the country

Reinforcing emergency response against COVID-19 in Africa

7 May 2020 -- Brazzaville – In an expanded pool of expertise, the World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting several African countries to coordinate the work of external emergency medical teams deployed to support the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

New WHO estimates: Up to 190 000 people could die of COVID-19 in Africa if not controlled

7 May 2020 - Brazzaville – Eighty-three thousand to 190 000 people in Africa could die of COVID-19 and 29 million to 44 million could get infected in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail, a new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa finds. The research, which is based on prediction modelling, looks at 47 countries in the WHO African Region with a total population of one billion.

Statement by WHO’s Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean on COVID-19 in Yemen

2 May 2020 - To date, there are seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the south of Yemen, including two deaths, as declared by national authorities. No other cases have been officially reported to WHO, although we anticipate the virus is actively circulating throughout the country.

Best practices have shown that when people are informed and warned about outbreaks early on, and where measures are in place to test, trace, isolate and care for cases, transmission of the virus can be controlled.


Statement on the 5th meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) - Ebola is still considered a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)

14 April 2020 - The 5th meeting of the Emergency Committee, convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) to review the current Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, took place on Friday, 10 April 2020. The Committee agreed that while there is a low risk of international spread, they consider this event to still constitute a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) under the IHR (2005), requiring international coordination and support.

WHO/C. Black

Outbreaks and crises

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.


WHO thanks all of the contributors that provide funding or in-kind contribution for WHO’s work for emergencies.


WHO coordinates the international health response to emergencies and humanitarian crises, but we cannot do this work without our partners who help us deliver health services in even the most difficult situations.

Behind the headlines

At any one time, dozens of infectious disease outbreaks are happening around the world. In this special feature, we visit a series of recent health emergencies, telling the stories behind the headlines and exploring the many different dimensions of an outbreak response.

R&D Blueprint

Illustration of lab equipment.

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.


WHO training on personal protective equipment during the Ebola outbreak in Guinea

The Director-General has established an Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme (IOAC), to provide oversight and monitoring of the development and performance of the Programme and to guide the Programme’s activities.



Each issue of the Health Emergency Highlights contains information on the current humanitarian context, the health priorities and response operations