Colombo, Sep 9 (IANS) Members of the WHO South East Asia Region on Friday decided to establish a dedicated funding stream, aimed at building preparedness for health emergencies in the region.
Under the South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund (SEARHEF), providing funding to the member countries for health emergencies will be a key priority for regional health agenda.
According to the WHO, at present, SEARHEF funds are disbursed only once a disaster has occurred.
“To date, post-disaster funding through South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund has done an excellent job of helping countries respond to health emergencies once they have occurred, as we saw most recently in Nepal and Sri Lanka,” said a statement from the WHO South East Asia Region Office (SEARO).
“The new funding stream will allow countries to invest in infrastructure and human resources that will enhance preparedness,” it added.
In recent years earthquakes, cyclones and floods have caused health emergencies in the South-East Asia Region. The Region has also been threatened by a range of emerging diseases, including SARS, MERS CoV, pandemic influenza and Zika virus.
WHO SEARO comprises 11 member countries of the Region — Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
According to WHO SEARO, 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.