BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global Health and Humanitarian Crisis



Humanitarian crisis can be explained as a remarkable and disastrous event or chain of events that threaten the health, safety and well-being of a group of people, community or the public at large. It is an emergency which prevents a population or large group of people from accessing basic needs such as food, water, healthcare, clothing and shelter. A crisis may result from an internal or external factor or differences, and typically occurs over a large area of land. These events often require local, national and international responses as the immediate community may be unprepared to handle such situations. There are different factors that cause or lead to humanitarian crises; consequently, response to each crisis should be targeted towards the particular sectors affected as well as meet the unique needs of the victims involved. Humanitarian crises may result from natural disasters, man-made catastrophes or a combination of complex emergencies, and may cause short, temporal, long-term or permanent damages. Some common examples of events categorized as humanitarian crisis include: armed conflicts, pollution, epidemics, flooding, pandemics, wildfires, famine and natural disasters including hurricanes and earthquakes.

The consequences of humanitarian crises are detrimental to health and leads to increased movement of people which may eventually result in refugee crisis if not addressed or handled properly. For these reasons, national and international agencies such as Ministries of Health, WHO and UNICEF need to assist in the rectification of these tragedies. Till date, the magnitude of the international humanitarian response has remained inadequate and unsatisfactory as up to 2 billion people in over 40 countries worldwide suffer several challenges- especially health-related, from crisis conditions. A recent study published in The Lancet titled “Health in Humanitarian Crisis” revealed that large-scale humanitarian crises are constantly ongoing in many African and Asian countries. Implicated countries include Syria, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. After assessing the evidence base for health interventions in humanitarian crises, the study found that there are significant variations in the quantity and quality of evidence available. This reflects the lack of emergency preparedness and limitation of health interventions accessible in times of emergencies and crises.

Noteworthy, many lessons have been learned from past failed responses and lack of recommendations to improve emergency preparedness (EP) and crisis response (CR). Therefore, it is important prioritize EP and CR as well as align humanitarian interventions with development programs, ensure the availability and accessibility of timely and robust health information and to make health interventions more efficient, effective, and sustainable during humanitarian crisis. According to WHO, focused and intensive preparation is fundamental to improved response systems. Identified priorities include health assessments, coordinated response strategies, joint action to tackle suffering and reduce deaths; early identification of response gaps and renovation of local systems that are essential for better health

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