Nigeria: WHO Maintains Grade 3 Health Emergency in North-East Nigeria

Maiduguri, 30 October, 2020 - The 9th Joint Operations Review of WHO health emergency operations in the north-east Nigeria has resolved to maintain the grading of the humanitarian health emergency declared in 2016. WHO graded the emergency at grade 3 owing to its severity and impact on public health which significantly reduces access to basic health services and renders the population vulnerable to disease outbreaks, malnutrition, injuries and mental health.

The resolution to maintain the grading came out of a three-day Joint Operations Review of WHO's health emergency response programmes in the north-east Nigeria conducted from the 26th - 28th October, 2020 in Maidguri, Borno State. The review concluded that risks for negative impact on health remained very high and have been further compounded by the country-wide ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The capacity of the State Governments and supporting partners to mitigate the risks or respond to the health emergencies has been affected by recent reduction in national and foreign assistance funding.

At the 3-day review, WHO Nigeria Representative, Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo reaffirmed WHO's commitment to continue providing the urgently needed leadership and coordination of the health sector partners to provide healthcare services to the populations in need of healthcare services across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.

"The operational environment in the BAY states is characterized by rising insecurity, driving waves of new displacements, deepening food insecurity and malnutrition, a situation that is compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore obligates WHO to maintain the current grade 3 health emergency in order to sustain its current level of operations in the region," says Dr Mulombo.

Health emergency expert at WHO headquarters, Dr Jorge Castilla explained that the protracted nature of the crisis in the north-east Nigeria and continued attacks on healthcare facilities and workers continue to decrease access to healthcare service. "The eleven-year old insurgency in north-east Nigeria has resulted in deterioration of healthcare services, malnutrition and reduced coping mechanism for even populations in relatively more secure locations."

Speaking at a meeting with the WHO Country Representative, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Borno State, Professor Umara Zulum, reaffirmed the State's confidence in the work of WHO in the State. "I am confident that WHO would help the State to mobilize all health sector partners to support the provision of healthcare services in line with the State's plans that include resettlement of internally displaced persons back to their original homes or alternative safe locations."

The Joint Operational Review is an internal bi-annual exercise of WHO to review the organization's health emergency programme in the north-east Nigeria with a view to improving current standards and developing the roadmap for future interventions. The 9th review was attended by WHO emergency experts from the headquarters, WHO African regional office, WHO Nigeria and health emergency experts in north-east Nigeria, officials of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, humanitarian donors including EU, GIZ, Department for Commonwealth Office formerly DFID, JICA and Dangote Foundation and other implementing partners (FHI 360 and Terres des Hommes).

Techincal Contacts:

Dr Rex Mpazanje; Email:mpazanjer [at] who.int; Tel: +234 803 960 0874

Dr Chima Onuekwe; Email: onuekwec [at] who.int; Tel: +234 803 777 1775

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