The World Health Organization (WHO) opened a regional office in Istanbul on Thursday to help countries better prepare for humanitarian and health emergencies.

“The establishment of the Geographically Dispersed Office for Preparedness for Humanitarian and Health Emergencies constitutes a concrete step towards our goal to transform Istanbul into a regional hub for the United Nations,” according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

“This Office will reinforce our relations with WHO, enhance our visibility in field of humanitarian assistance and support global efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.

The office will provide technical and operational expertise to help strengthen the capacities of member states in the region to emergencies such as COVID-19, according to WHO’s website.

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