Launch of WHO's Health Emergency Appeal 2024: funding requirements and priorities for the Americas.


January 15, 2024. The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially launched its 2024 Health Emergency Appeal in a high-level livestreamed event on Monday 15 January 2024. The Appeal, which targets over 166 million people who will require health assistance in 2024, aims to enable response to 41 ongoing health crises and deliver critical health care services and protection of vulnerable communities against deepening threats around the world.

As conflict, climate change and economic instability continue to fuel displacement, hunger and inequality, these global crises are deepening and increasing the complexity of health emergencies globally. 

The Americas are not exempt from those escalating crises and growing intersecting threats. The Region, which remains the second most disaster-prone worldwide after Asia, continues to face complex, multifaceted health and humanitarian challenges in a context of acute inequity within and across countries. 

In 2023, Latin American and Caribbean countries grappled with the severe impacts of El Niño, which has intensified existing vulnerabilities of at-risk communities. The phenomenon has led to varied effects on precipitation and temperature, resulting in droughts, wildfires, and floods and causing disruptions in the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. The repercussions of El Niño on the spread of arboviruses are evident in the sharp increase in dengue cases in 2023, with over 4 million new infections recorded in the Americas, largely surpassing the previous record from 2019. 

Increases in epidemic outbreaks regionwide unfold amidst complex and prolonged humanitarian crises including mass migration in Central and South America, and spreading armed violence. These situations place additional strain on already overwhelmed national health systems that are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, struggling to maintain essential and preventative care services, including vaccination.

In this regional panorama, Haiti poses the gravest crisis in the Americas region. While the country continues to battle a cholera epidemic since the reemergence of cholera in October 2022, the humanitarian situation in the country rapidly deteriorated in 2023 with worsening insecurity and violence from gangs in 2023 and alarming rises in unprecedented levels of kidnapping, killings and sexual violence. This prompted the Emergency Relief Committee (ERC) to activate a System-wide Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) scale-up to bolster humanitarian presence and response in Haiti, automatically reclassifying the crisis as a WHO Grade 3 Emergency - the highest on WHO´s scale. Escalating violence in the country has prevented access to healthcare, disproportionately affecting vulnerable communities, and deeply hindered the capacity of health institutions and partners to provide a comprehensive emergency response. 

During the online launch for WHO's Emergency Appeal on January 15, Dr. Oscar Barreneche, PAHO/WHO Representative in Haiti said: "The glimmer of hope comes with the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution 2699, which authorized a specialized multinational Mission to support the Haitian National Police in restoring stability in the country. The Mission is expected to start during the first quarter of 2024. PAHO/WHO is supporting Haiti's Ministry of Health with preparations for the mission and is facilitating the coordination with partners within the health cluster for the provision of the overall humanitarian response." 

In response to these challenges, WHO seeks US$1.5 billion in funding from the donor community to provide live-saving health care to millions of people in emergencies and ensure that no critical health need is left unmet. In the Americas, a total of US$133.9M is required to support and scale-up the response to ongoing health emergencies and crises and strengthen essential healthcare delivery to population in need of assistance.
WHO´s Health Emergency Appeal includes six key priorities for the Americas for 2024:

1.    Enhancing Equitable Access to Healthcare Services: scaling up care delivery for emergency-affected populations while addressing social determinants of health to reduce disparities and cater to diverse groups.

2.    Strengthening Response to Infectious Disease Outbreaks: Building capacities for early detection and response to existing and emerging diseases.

3.    Operational Preparedness for Natural Disasters: increasing readiness for hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods.

4.    Enhanced emergency logistics coordination and supply chain management.

5.    Sustaining Vaccination Programs: continuing outreach efforts and strengthening programs to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases.

6.    Community Empowerment in Fragile Environments: equipping remote communities to self-manage health risks and improve prevention and access to health services.

Link to the appeal: Full document