WHO in emergencies

WHO sending urgent health assistance after Cyclone Idai displaces thousands of people in southern Africa

20 March 2019 - Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall near Beira City in central Mozambique in the early hours of 15 March 2019, leaving extensive destruction in its wake. The system also brought heavy rains and flooding to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that a total of 1.6 million people have been affected in the three countries. WHO is supporting the health response by deploying staff, dispatching medicines, and strengthening disease detection and response in affected areas.

WHO monitors the administration of yellow fever vaccine by a mobile vaccination team in Blue Nile State, Sudan

Sudan set to protect over 8 million people with its largest ever yellow fever vaccination drive

20 March 2019 – The Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and UNICEF has launched a large-scale mass vaccination campaign in Sudan to vaccinate over 8.3 million people aged from 9 months to 60 years against yellow fever in the states of Blue Nile, Gezira and Sennar during 10–29 March 2019.


Aynaa's story: treating severe acute malnutrition in Syria

21 March 2019 – Baby Aynaa was only three months old when she and her mother fled from conflict-torn Deir-ez-Zor to Al-Hol camp in the neighbouring governorate of Al-Hasakeh. They endured a week-long journey in freezing temperatures and driving rain, with little food or water to sustain them. By the time she reached the safety of the camp, Aynaa was severely malnourished and close to death. Her weight had plummeted to 2.7 kgs and she was comatose.

WHO/Syrian Arab Republic

8 ways WHO supports health in Syria

14 March 2019 - The Syrian crisis is one of the world’s biggest and most complex humanitarian emergencies. 8 years of conflict have taken a huge toll on a health system that was once among the best in the region. Here are 8 things to know about how WHO works in Syria to save lives and support health despite immense challenges.


WHO launches new global influenza strategy

11 March 2019 -- WHO today released a Global Influenza Strategy for 2019-2030 aimed at protecting people in all countries from the threat of influenza. The goal of the strategy is to prevent seasonal influenza, control the spread of influenza from animals to humans, and prepare for the next influenza pandemic.

WHO/Tom Pietrasik

Unexploded mines pose daily risk for people in northern Syria

7 March 2019 - Um Hassan, from rural Aleppo, was collecting truffles in the countryside to sell in local markets. At the end of a long day of backbreaking work in harsh winter conditions, she and her children climbed into a crowded lorry to begin their journey home. Half-way through their trip, the lorry drove over an unexploded mine. Um Hassan’s 10-year old daughter Lolo was killed instantly and two of her other children were seriously injured.

WHO/Syrian Arab Republic

WHO responds to critical health needs in southern Libya

6 March 2019 – Clashes between armed groups in Sabha and Murzuq has resulted in increasing numbers of injured patients, overwhelming health facilities already facing shortages of specialists and medical supplies. World Health Organization (WHO) has delivered trauma medicines to Sabha Medical Centre, Murzuq General hospital and Ghodwa field hospital for more than 400 patients, six incubators and two ventilators to the neonatal intensive care unit and pre-positioned additional trauma medicines at the Medical Supply Office in Sabha.


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.

What we do

From prevention through preparedness to early warning, response, and early recovery, the WHO Health Emergencies programme is operational.


Health crisis in Central African Republic.
WHO/C. Black

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