WHO in emergencies

WHO urges greater COVID-19 health services in Africa’s humanitarian settings

16 July 2020 -- Brazzaville – The World Health Organization (WHO) today called for greater access to COVID-19 detection, testing and care among vulnerable populations grappling with the impacts of protracted conflict and humanitarian emergencies across Africa.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Ebola cases rise, surpass previous outbreak

Democratic Republic of the Congo Ebola cases rise, surpass previous outbreak

16 July 2020 Brazzaville – The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Equateur Province continues to grow, causing major concern as the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners face critical funding gaps. Confirmed cases have now surpassed the total number recorded during the province’s last outbreak in 2018.

WHO/Democratic Republic of the Congo

Strengthening laboratory capacity in Somalia

13 July 2020 – “I had heard of diseases like Ebola before but thankfully they had never reached Somalia. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck countries around the world this year, my heart sank. When I saw how quickly COVID-19 was spreading, I thought Somalis would be in trouble. Other countries were beginning to go into lockdown everywhere and we had no capacity or skills to test patients for the virus,” says Dr Sahra Isse Mohamed, Director of the National Public Health Reference Laboratory. “But we were pleasantly surprised — within a record time of 3 weeks since the first case was reported, WHO, along with international and national partners, such as Medipark Diagnostics, a private laboratory in Mogadishu, teamed up with us to ensure that we built our own capacity to test for the virus.”

WHO and KSrelief join forces to preserve the health system in Yemen

30 June 2020 – Over the past 8 months, WHO and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) have joined forces to ensure access to health care for the vulnerable in remote areas through the provision of a minimum service package. The support has enabled WHO to sustain the health system at primary and secondary levels, by allowing 293 facilities to remain functional and provide health access to 4.3 million people.


Community leaders help drive COVID-19 testing in Nigeria’s Kano

29 June 2020 Kano – When health officials in Kano State noted that turnouts for Covid-19 testing were consistently low across communities, they grew worried. Many residents were unaware of how serious the Covid-19 disease was, and despite sensitization messages on the pandemic, some did not believe COVID-19 was real. How then, officials worried, would health workers be able to convince residents to submit themselves for testing so infected persons could be isolated and treated?


Building on Ebola response to tackle COVID-19 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

25 June 2020 Brazzaville – The Ebola outbreak in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was declared over today, almost two years since the first case was confirmed. The DRC Ministry of Health made the announcement after no new cases were reported 42 days since the last patient tested negative for the virus.

WHO/Nyka Alexander

EU, WHO to strengthen Sudan’s COVID-19 response and health system

24 June 2020 Khartoum — The World Health Organization welcomes a generous contribution of 11.5 million Euros from the European Union to fight COVID-19 in Sudan and improve the country’s overall health system. The large-scale 2-year project will benefit an estimated 42 million people in Sudan, including internally displaced people and refugees.

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