The Pan American Health Organization and the World Food Program have agreed to collaborate on logistics during humanitarian crises, an area in which PAHO has accumulated vast experience over the past 20 years.
In an agreement signed here by PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses and WFP Regional Director Omar Bula Escobar, the two agencies said they will "work jointly to promote efficient and proper management of relief supplies" to address nutrition and health problems, including ways to ensure a rapid integrated response to the affected population" in a disaster or humanitarian crisis.
Roses said, "This agreement marks a new level of collaboration to help the poor, the hungry, and those left destitute in crises. Joining our expertise with that of the World Food Program is a logical step in assessing needs and developing responses to reduce malnutrition, offset health and food inequalities, and cut mortality rates. It also marks an advance toward the Millennium Development Goals."
Bula said, "We believe this partnership constitutes one of the main bastions of a renewed effort to boost emergency preparedness and response capacity in the Region together with our main partners. Additionally, both agencies recognize the gravity of chronic malnutrition in the Region and feel that joint efforts will lead to success."
The agreement aims to improve "efficiency, transparency and accountability in addressing the food, nutrition and health needs of affected populations," focusing on malnourished children, women and the elderly in emergencies.
PAHO has supplied expertise to develop a Logistic Support System that tracks donated commodities and relief supplies to make the most efficient use of donations. The system will be used by five United Nations organizations and is available to other groups.
The World Food Program, as the food aid arm of the UN, uses food to save lives, alleviate hunger, prevent nutritional decline, and enable poor, food-insecure people to make investments in education and other assets that will help them in the longer term.
PAHO, established in 1902, works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and the quality of life of people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization.