Lagos Historical Review

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The Dilemma of Bureaucratic Rationalisation: The Role of the World Health Organisation during the Nigerian Civil War and its Aftermath, 1967 – 1975

Benjamin Uchenna Anaemene


Despite the widely publicised humanitarian condition during the Nigerian Civil War  (1967-1970), the World Health Organisation (WHO) was conspicuously absent in the provision of emergency assistance to the war affected areas. This article employs the bureaucratic framework to explain the inaction of the WHO in the provision of  emergency assistance during the war. The article argues that in the face of its constitutional constraints, the WHO was able to provide indirect supportive assistance to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In addition, the impact of the Organisation was also felt in the aftermath of the war through the restoration of the  health services in the Eastern Region and the provision of assistance during the Second and Third Development Plans. The article concludes that while it is understandable that member states are not willing to submit their autonomy and sovereignty to the WHO,  the sovereignty concept should give way to the coordination efforts directed by the  WHO during public health emergencies.

AJOL African Journals Online