68th World Health Assembly: IFRC participation

18 to 26 May 2015

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) serve the most vulnerable population in both humanitarian and development contexts. In 2013, the IFRC’s reached approximately 77 million people through various health programmes.

During the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA), IFRC will be participating in two events:

Fragile States: boosting community systems for an effective health response - See more at: http://www.ifrc.org/en/news-and-media/meetings-and-events/other-events/67th-world-health-assembly-ifrc-hosted-events/#sthash.gFeuvc4d.dpuf

Health and Well-being in Emergencies

Health and Well-being in Emergencies

When: Wednesday 20 May, 18:00 – 19:30
Where: Room VII, Palais des Nations

The lead organizers of this event are the governments of Netherlands and New Zealand. This event is cosponsored by the following member states and organizations: Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Lebanon, Mozambique, Norway, Sierra Leone, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, ILO, UNFPA, UNHCR, IFRC, Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition and the World Health Organisation.

Chair of the event and moderator: Reina Buijs, Director-General for International Cooperation Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands

Memorial: Dr Chan, Director-General, WHO (TBD); Dr Stewart Jessamine, Acting Director of Public Health, New Zealand Ministry of Health; Dr Hazem Bakleh, Syrian Arab Red Crescent (Testimonial)

Scene setter: Dr Bruce Aylward, Special Representative Director-General and Assistant Director-General, WHO (Overview, setting the scene)


  • Mr Conrad Sauvé, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Red Cross and IFRC representative for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health
  • Dr Florence D. Guillaume, Minister, Haiti
  • Dr Adeelah Hammood, Minister of Health, Republic of Iraq (Safety health workers and facilities)
  • Her Royal Highness Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan (Reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health)
  • Dr Rabih El-Chammay, Lebanon (Mental Health)
  • Dr Leonard Rubenstein, Chair, Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition (Safety of health workers)
  • Ambassador Stevens, Sierra Leone (Mental Health)
  • Dr Maha Taysir Barakat, United Arab Emirates (Reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health)

Invited panellists will share case studies, experiences and operational models that are sustainable, cost-effective, culturally appropriate and innovative.

About the event

The side event on health and well-being in emergencies will focus on three important aspects: (i) safety and health of health care workers; (ii) reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health; and (iii) mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian emergencies. All three areas have health, social, and economic consequences, and the ‘cost of inaction’ can have a considerable impact on reconstruction and development.

The IFRC’s intervention will be focused on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health in emergencies. When health systems collapse during an emergency, communities themselves can be incredibly resourceful and resilient. Recognizing that this resilience can increase significantly through an investment in community capacities, the Red Cross Red Crescent has played a critical role in strengthening community service delivery systems to ensure continuous access to maternal and child health services. We will share evidence from our work in emergencies to demonstrate that training community health volunteers and working with health systems, at local levels, enables the most vulnerable women and children to access life-saving services (including in outbreaks, epidemics, conflicts and natural disasters).

The IFRC advocates for:

-           critical investments towards building sustainable community health systems

-           the recognition, protection and support of community health workers and volunteers, and

-           people-centred approaches that lead to accountability.

Ebola outbreak – Technical briefing

Ebola outbreak – Technical briefing

When: Tuesday, 19 May, 12.30 – 14.15

Where: Room XVII, Palais des Nations


-           Ministers of Health from the three Ebola outbreak countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia

-           Representatives from the Republic of China and the United States

-           Key responders: African Union and IFRC

-           Countries engaged in the Research and Development work: South Africa and the United Kingdom.

About the event

The Ebola crisis in West Africa has highlighted the importance of emergency preparedness for all hazards, and the need for powerful coordinated international response capacity. A series of assessments and reviews are ongoing to examine and reform the global community’s collective ability to respond to emergencies with major health consequences. WHO is examining how to better structure and capacitate the Organization to fulfil its Constitutional mandate in emergencies.  This technical briefing will review the status of and priorities in this Ebola crisis, major lessons learned to date, and implications for the future of WHO’s work in emergencies, including its role in capacity building of Member States. Speakers will include representatives from affected countries and from responding organizations.

The IFRC intervention will highlight the need to build and strengthen localized capacity and response mechanisms to rapidly enable communities to make informed decisions, thus increasing their engagement and access to life-saving measures. Thousands of Red Cross volunteers have been providing safe and dignified burials across the three main affected countries. The IFRC    will highlight the key role played by the Red Cross staff and volunteers in healing, reconciling, protecting and containing the outbreaks through community work. Addressing fear, misconception and stigma attached to the disease require a continuous investment in retraining and preparing new teams of volunteers to work in communities towards building resilience though a dignified recovery programme.

Follow the event on twitter: #WHA68. For more information, please contact: ombretta.baggio@ifrc.org