Humanitarian Health Action

WHO responding to unprecedented scale of humanitarian emergencies

A child eating plumpy nut as health worker and mother look on, Central African Republic.
WHO/C. Black

September 2014 -- For the first time ever, WHO is leading the health response to five major humanitarian crises at the same time. More than 60 million people, from West Africa to Iraq, urgently require a wide range of health-care services. The five crises have, due to their scale and the emergency health response required, each been categorized as Grade 3 (G3) emergencies, the highest grading determined by WHO as part of its Emergency Response Framework. The ERF grades emergencies across three levels, with Grade 3 being the most serious.

Gaza conflict - expanding mental-health services in Gaza

12 September 2014 -- Following the recent conflict in Gaza, WHO estimates that an expected 360 000 people – 20% of Gaza’s population – are suffering a range of mental health challenges. Studies have shown that armed conflict causes significant levels of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychologist Hasan Zeyada lost close family himself during the recent hostilities and continues to support people who need help.

WHO responding to serious health concerns in conflict-affected Ukraine

An elderly returnee to Sloviansk is comforted by her daughter-in-law. The old woman's home is on the most heavily damaged areas of the city. Her house was hit by artillery and needs major repairs, she fears not to be able to afford.
UNHCR/I. Zimova

9 September 2014 ¦ Geneva/Kiev--The crisis in eastern Ukraine is creating a looming health emergency as hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and are living in varying and often exposed conditions as winter approaches, many without official status either as internally displaced persons or as refugees.

Recent crises

Health emergency highlights

  • Read the latest issue #17
    pdf, 219kb

    This issue features the health situation and Health Cluster response to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Ukraine, the launch of the Ebola Response Roadmap and the events to commemorate World Humanitarian Day.
  • Previous issues

Global Humanitarian response


Health care and violence: the need for effective protection

NEW YORK/GENEVA ¦ 25 September 2014 – Read the statement from WHO condeming rising violence against health care workers and patients at a high-level debate on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Emergency Response Framework (ERF)

ERF is to clarify WHO’s roles and responsibilities and to provide a common approach for its work in emergencies.