World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions
At global level, resolution WHA34.26 (1981) stressed that “despite the undoubted importance of relief in emergencies, preventive measures and preparedness are of fundamental importance”. Coinciding with the International Decade on Natural Disaster Reduction, resolutions WHA42.16 (1989) and WHA46.6 (1993) re-endorsed the concept of disaster reduction in the health sector. In 1995, WHA48.2 recognized that disaster reduction was an integral part of sustainable development and that each country bore the primary responsibility for strengthening its capacity. The resolution clearly differentiated WHO’s role in “emergency preparedness and disaster reduction” from that in “emergency response and humanitarian action”.
The importance given to preparedness by the Member States was reiterated as recently as in 2005. At its 58th session, the World Health Assembly adopted resolution (WHA58.1), reiterating the necessary links or synergies between response and preparedness and recovery, respectively, and the need to “strengthen the ingenuity and resilience of communities, the capacities of local authorities, and the preparedness of health systems”. This resolution urged Member States, among other things, to:
engage actively in the collective measures to establish global and regional preparedness plans that integrate risk-reduction planning into the health sector and build-up capacity to respond to health-related crises;
formulate ... national emergency-preparedness plans that give due attention to public health, including health infrastructure...”. A year later, the World Health Assembly discussed health action in crises again and passed resolution (WHA59.22) which reiterates the importance of action needed to build national capacities in emergency preparedness.
Resolutions have been passed by the Regional Committee to reinforce the mandate given to WHO at global level and to strengthen initiatives in the area of emergency preparedness and response in Member States.