Emergency and humanitarian action


The South-East Asia Region is vulnerable to different types of emergencies and disasters. Countries in this region face a broad range of disasters from natural hazards including floods, cyclone, earthquakes, tsunami, landslides, volcanic eruption, heat waves, drought and others. The region also shares a high burden of outbreaks and epidemics of common infectious diseases, emerging and re-emerging diseases including zoonotic infections.

The WHO Health Emergencies Programme (WHE) at the SEARO focuses on building operational capacity for emergency response in collaboration and partnership with national, regional and global partners. There are existing established operational partnership mechanisms and networks such as Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), Global Health Cluster (GHC), Emergency Medical Teams (EMT), Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), WHO Collaborating Centres, WHO Standby Partners (SBP) and regional networks such as ASEAN. To prevent, detect and respond to emergencies, the WHO Health Emergencies (WHE) Programme focuses on building country capacity in collaboration with national, regional and global partners. Strengthening of Emergency Risk Management is one of the priority areas for the region and this can be achieved by improving the coordination mechanism for emergency response through effective partnerships.

During the emergency phase, the presence of multiple humanitarian stakeholders working with or without any partnership arrangements can make the emergency response less effective and inefficient with duplication of response activities and wasting of resources that are already scarce. On top of that, weak coordination and communication mechanisms affect the quality and timely delivery of much needed emergency relief and services. In order to have a timely, well-coordinated, effective and efficient emergency response, the Emergency Operations (EMO) unit of WHO at the Regional Office based in New Delhi, India collaborates with various partners..

Various partnerships have their own mechanisms of networking and coordination within their own areas of specialty or interest. The operational partners and existing key partnership platforms are broadly categorized in the following networks:

  • Members of the Inter-Agency standing Committee (IASC)
  • Global Health Cluster (GHC)
  • Emergency Medical Teams (EMT)
  • Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN)
  • Standby partners (SBP)
  • Multilateral and bilateral development health partners
  • WHO Collaborating Centres (WHO CCs)
  • Regional partnerships coordinated by OCHA
  • Regional partnerships under ASEAN-AHA and SAARC

Regional Consultation Workshop, Bangkok, Thailand

In order to strengthen networking and coordination mechanisms in the Region, a consultation meeting was organised during 28-29 November 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand in which 86 delegates from 54 agencies from the existing operational partnerships and various bilateral and multilateral development agencies including Member States from the South-East Asia deliberated.


As a result of consultation process during the meeting and various recommendations a draft 'Regional Framework on Operational Partnership for Emergency Response' was agreed with broad consensus.

Key Recommendations and Way Forward

  • Raise awareness and knowledge among Member States and operational partners about the existing operational partnerships mechanisms and established regional networks
  • Mapping of operational partners should be conducted across readiness, response and early recovery using 4Ws approach
  • Develop, build and expand operational partnerships in the Region for timely, effective and efficient emergency response
  • National level policies and legislation should define accountability mechanism and engagement with cluster system and other networks for operational partnerships
  • Build and maintain operational capacity for emergency response through training and capacity building and more engagement of operational partners on standby rosters
  • Engage private sector partners on corporate social responsibilities in improving areas of logistics supply chain systems, information technology-based innovations and emergency aids
  • Partner-to-Partner investment or pooling of resources among partners through consortia approach should be promoted.