WHO renews North-East Nigeria’s Health Emergency grading at highest level,

Abuja, 9 July, 2021 – The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s North-eastern BAY (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe) remains protracted, with an estimated eight million people at risk of displacement, impoverishment and threats of violence. As a result, WHO has resolved to maintain the current status of grade 3 health emergency declared in the region since 2016.

The three-level grading teleconference of the World Health Organization hosted by the Representative (WR) to Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo recommended the same grade for the humanitarian crisis affecting North East Nigeria. The decision to maintain Grade 3 Protracted Emergency was reached, following presentation of the situation analysis and risk assessment of the region at the 10th Joint Operations Review (JOR) in Abuja (05-06 July, 2021) with participation from the three levels of the Organization.

The goal of 2021 mid-term JOR for the WHO North-east Nigeria Health Emergencies programme was to take stock of the achievements and challenges of the humanitarian response covering the last six months, against the 2021 Operational Plan, the North-east Nigeria 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan, including an assessment of the region’s COVID-19 Response

Following presentations by different pillars of the humanitarian response, the WR said, “The security situation remains complex, unpredictable, and volatile, with existing health vulnerabilities exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

He emphasized the need for both WHO and partners to accelerate implementation of the operational plan within the remaining period to ensure provision of quality health services to populations at risk.

Presently, 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.

The WR reaffirmed WHO’s commitment to continue providing the critical leadership and coordination of the health sector partners to provide healthcare services to the population across of the three states.

The North East Nigeria humanitarian health emergency was first graded in 2016 as grade 3, the highest level, owing to its severity and impact on public health which significantly reduced access to basic health services and rendered the population vulnerable to disease outbreaks, malnutrition, injuries and mental health. Following four cycles of grading reviews with the emergency remaining active, the emergency was graded as a protracted emergency

In WHO’s rating, protracted emergency is an environment in which a significant proportion of the population is acutely vulnerable to death, disease and disruption of livelihoods over a prolonged period of time. Governance in these settings is often weak, with limited state capacity to respond to, and mitigate, the threats to the population, or provide adequate levels of protection.

The WHO Emergency Manager for North East Operations, Dr Lako Richard Lino Loro who had earlier given detailed security update said, “The BAY states still have a high proportion of vulnerable population groups that remain at high risk of disease outbreaks. The existing incidence of infectious diseases in the region can only worsen the current levels of morbidity and mortality.”

Previous disease trends in the NE Nigeria also indicated a likelihood of outbreaks of cholera, meningitis, Lassa fever yellow fever and other vaccine preventable diseases including polio especially due to the impact of COVID-19 which has increased vulnerability and limited access to essential health services.

Equally, overcrowding and poor access to WHSH and waste management facilities also increase the risk of transmission of communicable diseases and occurrence of outbreaks

At the end of the meeting, health emergency experts at WHO headquarters and the WHO Africa Regional Office adjudged the JOR as very productive and a valuable exercise to understand the prevailing and protracted nature of the crisis. Concerns were raised about increased attacks on healthcare facilities and workers, which meant decreased access to healthcare services by vulnerable populations. All participants from the 3 levels agreed in tandem that the needs of the affected population may remain over the next 6 months hence justifying the maintenance of the current grading.

The JOR is an internal biannual exercise of WHO to review the organization’s health emergency programmes in the north-east Nigeria aimed at reviewing current strategies and adjusting for the next six months. Expected outcomes from the JOR include revised operational strategies, clearly defined milestones for the next six months.

Technical Contacts

Dr Richard Loko; Email: lokor@who.int; Tel: 08034022392

Mr Geoffrey Namara; Email: namarag@who.int; Tel: +234 703 178 1773

For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:

Ms Charity Warigon
Tel: +234 810 221 0093
Email: warigonc@who.int

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