New Health Emergency Project Launched by WHO and WFP
Relief supplies that were stockpiled through the UN Humanitarian Response Depot hub in Brindisi, Italy were sent to Somalia in the wake of Cyclone Gati. The new project plans to utilise this existing infrastructure for health emergencies.

The World Food Program (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO) launched a health emergencies project, INITIATE2, on Monday.

The joint INITIATE2 project will gather health emergency actors, research and academic institutions, and international and national partners to facilitate knowledge sharing and skills transfer to improve emergency health responses. 

The project will develop innovative solutions to health crises, including disease-specific facilities and kits. Healthcare workers and those working in logistics will be trained to implement and adjust the solutions to local contexts. 

The agencies plan to leverage existing infrastructure, such as the UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) – a global network of hubs that procures, stores, and transports emergency supplies for the humanitarian community – to stockpile relief items. 

Currently, there are six strategically located hubs around the world in Italy, Ghana, Malaysia, Panama, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates. 

The UNHRD Lab will be used to research and develop improved logistics support equipment, cost-effective and sustainable solutions, and standardised field items for health responses. 

“Health emergencies like the West Africa Ebola response and the current COVID-19 pandemic have shown just how crucial working together as a humanitarian community is, and so we’re extremely pleased to be able to further cement our role as an enabler of humanitarian response through this collaboration with WHO,” said Alex Marianelli, WFP Director of Supply Chain, in a press release

COVID Health Emergency Program

During the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO and WFP developed the COVID-19 Supply Chain System to address the acute shortage of essential supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE), biomedical equipment, and diagnostics supplies. 

WHO has worked with partner agencies to provide a channel for countries to request critical healthcare supplies. 

“The WHO-WFP-led COVID-19 Supply Chain System has already illustrated an end-to-end integration of technical and operational capacities for impact,” said Dr Ibrahima Soce-Fall, WHO Assistant Director General for Emergencies Response. 

“With INITIATE2, WFP and WHO are now extending the collaboration to build synergies among different actors and foster innovation in this critical field, to quickly respond to health emergencies and create a conducive environment for knowledge sharing and skills transfer,” said Soce-Fall.

This is an excellent example of how we can scale and harmonise emergency preparedness, readiness, and response,” he added.

Image Credits: UNHRD.

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