Emergency Operations (EMO)

About the programme

Health emergencies in the African Region are unpredictable. WHO continues to enhance its systems and processes to ensure a more predictable and effective response to health emergencies. The WHO Emergency Operations (EMO) programme area is responsible for ensuring that emergency-affected populations have access to timely and effective health services. This includes ensuring a strong emergency management system (based on incident management), effective and inclusive coordination mechanisms, joint assessments and planning by partners, implementation of operations and services according to agreed standards, and strong logistics and operational support. The expansion and strengthening of operational partnerships is a key priority. The EMO programme area also provides leadership on humanitarian policy and guidance, as well as representation to key interagency bodies.

Emergency operations is the organization and management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with the humanitarian aspects of emergencies in terms of preparedness, response, and recovery to reduce the harmful effects of all hazards, including disasters. The EMO programme area has three main response elements: (i) strengthening WHO’s own operational capacities; (ii) expanding and strengthening international capacities for emergency response through partnerships; and (iii) catalyzing and coordinating the international response to health emergencies.

The main aim of the programme area is to provide support to all countries in order to adequately respond to threats and emergencies with public health consequences and to ensure that populations affected by health emergencies have access to an essential package of life-saving health services and public health interventions. To achieve this, the EMO programme area focuses on the following functions:

  • Incident Management Systems (IMS): The grading of an event triggers the activation of an IMS, which provides a standardized and flexible approach to manage WHO’s response to the emergency.  The IMS is established regardless of the hazards, scale or operational context of the emergency, focusing on the six core IMS critical functions which are leadership, partnership coordination, health operations and technical expertise, information and planning, logistics and finance and administration. 
  • Health response and crisis: WHO aims to respond to emergencies and events in a timely and coordinated manner. The Organization takes a “no regrets policy” at the onset of all emergencies/events to help ensure that adequate resources are provided for response. Response actions are undertaken in support of national health authorities and the affected population and are frequently done in collaboration with international and regional health partners.  

For further information, please contact:

Dr Bla Francois Nguessan
Senior Emergency Officer, Emergency Management Operations
WHO Health Emergencies Programme
WHO Regional Office for Africa
nguessanf [at] who.int