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New UN partnership launched to speed up medical aid in emergencies around the world

New UN partnership launched to speed up medical aid in emergencies around the world

Victims of natural or man-made emergencies around the world will have access to life-saving medical supplies within 48 hours, even when several major crises strike simultaneously, under a new United Nations initiative announced today.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) is teaming up in a partnership with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to use regional WFP logistics hubs to stock strategic supplies of relief goods and equipment. When the network is complete, the facilities in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America will allow a multi-pronged response anywhere in the world at one time.

“The partnership with WFP and our logistics hubs will improve how promptly we can deliver supplies enabling us to save more lives,” WHO Health Action in Crises official Ala Alwan said.

The collaboration of the logistics hubs combines WHO’s capacity in building supplies such as emergency health care kits, medicines, and transportation vehicles with the WFP’s logistical infrastructure. Hubs are already operating in Brindisi, Italy and Dubai and just this week an African hub opened in Ghana. Two more, in Panama and Malaysia, will be operational in the first half of this year.

The two organizations have a strong history of collaboration including most recently in Lebanon where WHO and WFP worked together to deliver supplies promptly despite last summer’s 34-day war between Israel and Hizbollah and difficult access.

In 2005, the agencies worked together on 69 projects in 42 countries. More than 69 per cent of the joint activities were in emergency and recovery operations.