Southeast Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund to help 11 member countries prepare for natural disasters and health emergencies
Eleven member countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) South-East Asia Region have decided to set up a health emergency preparedness fund. The decision was taken in a WHO Regional Committee meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on September 9.
The fund will be a part of the South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund (SEARHEF). Currently, money from SEARHEF is disbursed only after a disaster has taken place.
Southeast Asia is one of the most disaster-prone regions of the world and has faced earthquakes, floods and outbreaks of emerging diseases, including SARS, MERV and Zika, in recent years.
“Enhancing health security is a critical component of our public health mission, and a core part of WHO’s work in the Southeast Asia Region. The new funding stream for emergency preparedness established by member countries is an expression of the solidarity shared within the Region, as well as recognition that preparedness is less costly than response,” Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO Southeast Asia, said in a news release.
The Regional Committee is WHO Southeast Asia’s highest decision-making body. Its members are the health ministers and senior health ministry officials of 11 countries—Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
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