WHO and ECHO discuss future directions for strengthening partnership and innovative ways of working together

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus greets Maciej Popovski, EU Director-General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Assistance Operations. ©WHO/Chris Black

Top representatives from the WHO, its Health Emergencies Program (WHE) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Operations (ECHO) met in Geneva today for the annual high-level dialogue.

The EU team was led by Michael Köhler, Deputy Director-General of DG ECHO, and Suzanne Malone, Head of Strategic Partnerships with Humanitarian Organizations, and Dana Le Roy, WHO Director-General, ECHO. I was accompanied by a representative. Member of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva.

Exchanges on health emergency preparedness and response topped the agenda, with participants discussing shared global health priorities and partnerships in health emergencies and humanitarian response. Partners also brainstormed strategic developments related to the ongoing WHO 14th General Program of Work (GPW14), ongoing negotiations towards a pandemic agreement, Europe’s humanitarian response capacity, and: We also discussed the progress of major partnership projects, including: Mental health and nutrition, joint health emergencies, and infectious disease response in humanitarian settings.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to closer collaboration between the two organizations at strategic, technical and operational levels, participants in the high-level dialogue said the partnership between ECHO and WHO will be even stronger and better after the pandemic. They agree that they share a strategic vision for realizing society. , a safer and healthier world.

This partnership with ECHO is critical to WHO’s health emergencies work. In 2023, WHO is responding to an unprecedented number of intersecting health emergencies. Disasters such as earthquakes. Health impacts of conflicts in Ukraine, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, and other regions. The effects of all these health emergencies are compounded by the disruption to health systems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. ECHO and WHO work together to respond to infectious disease outbreaks and health emergencies around the world, providing life-saving medical care to the most vulnerable people. DG ECHO Deputy Director-General Michael Koehler said: “Requests for WHO have increased sharply in recent years, demonstrating the trust our partners have in us.”

Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said: “The global situation is changing rapidly, with growing medical needs due to environmental degradation, increasing risks of health emergencies, and increasing strain on national health systems and health workers.” “It’s getting complex. WHO is keen to expand our partnership.” At ECHO, we move beyond short-term humanitarian responses to address long-term strategic joint priorities. ”

The European Union and WHO are working together to secure political support for keeping global health on the agenda of a post-pandemic world. WHO’s vision is to change the course of SDG 3, Health and Well-being, by bringing stakeholders together around a new action strategy as outlined in the Global Program of Work.

This dialogue took place in the context of shared political commitment at the highest level. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed ECHO Director-General Maciej Popovski to Geneva. This was their first one-on-one meeting, and the two leaders spoke at length about their shared commitment to serving the most vulnerable in emergencies and humanitarian crises, with Dr. Tedros highlighting the close partnership between the two countries and He expressed his gratitude for joint efforts to alleviate suffering. There are ongoing crises in Afghanistan, Sudan, Ukraine, and most recently in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

In 2022, ECHO will provide support to COVID-19 rapid response teams, isolation centres, laboratories and primary health care centers, as well as providing ambulances to health authorities in Khartoum, Sudan, to reach health facilities in the region. assisted in transporting patients. ©lindsay mckenzie

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