Humanitarian Health Action

WHO Grade 3 and Grade 2 emergencies

WHO has an essential role to play in supporting Member States to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies with public health consequences. An Emergency Response Framework (ERF) was developed to clarify WHO’s roles and responsibilities in this regard and to provide a common approach for its work in emergencies. Ultimately, the ERF requires WHO to act with urgency and predictability to best serve and be accountable to populations affected by emergencies. ERF describes WHO’s internal grading process for emergencies. On this website you will find information on the Grade 3 and Grad 2 countries with emergencies.

Grading an emergency

Grading is an internal WHO process that is conducted to:

  • inform the Organization of the extent, complexity and duration of organizational and or external support required;
  • prompt all WHO offices at all levels to be ready to repurpose resources in order to provide support;
  • ensure that the Organization acts with appropriate urgency and mobilizes the appropriate resources in support of the response of the affected Member State, partners and the WHO country office;
  • trigger WHO’s Emergency Response Procedures and emergency policies;
  • remind the Head of the WHO country office (HWCO) to apply WHO’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as per the Director General’s memorandum of 15 January 2008; and
  • expedite clearance and dissemination of internal and external communications.

Whilst the following factors must be taken into consideration, grading is not directly dependent upon:

  • consultation with Member States;
  • official requests for international assistance;
  • other international emergency classification processes such as those of the IASC or the IHR (2005). However, an IASC Level 3 (L3) is a WHO Grade 3 emergency unless determined otherwise by the relevant members of the GEMT at grading. Regardless of the WHO grade, WHO will comply with its obligations in an IASC L3 system-wide activation (see Annex 3).

Grade definitions

WHO has the following grade definitions:

  • Ungraded: an event that is being assessed, tracked or monitored by WHO but that requires no WHO response at the time.
  • Grade 1: a single or multiple country event with minimal public health consequences that requires a minimal WCO response or a minimal international WHO response. Organizational and/or external support required by the WCO is minimal. The provision of support to the WCO is coordinated by a focal point in the regional office.
  • Grade 2: a single or multiple country event with moderate public health consequences that requires a moderate WCO response and/or moderate international WHO response. Organizational and/or external support required by the WCO is moderate. An Emergency Support Team, run out of the regional office (the Emergency Support Team is only run out of HQ if multiple regions are affected), coordinates the provision of support to the WCO.
  • Grade 3: a single or multiple country event with substantial public health consequences that requires a substantial WCO response and/or substantial international WHO response. Organizational and/or external support required by the WCO is substantial. An Emergency Support Team, run out of the regional office, coordinates the provision of support to the WCO.
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