Experts: WHO needs deep reforms after failing on Ebola

2015-05-11 14:52

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Geneva - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has failed to respond adequately to the Ebola epidemic and can win back international trust only if it carries out substantial reforms, an independent panel of experts said on Monday.

"The biggest skill gap continues to be found in the area of crisis coordination and leadership, and this needs to be addressed," wrote the experts.

They reviewed the Geneva-based agency's response to the outbreak on behalf of WHO member countries, which will gather next week in Geneva for their annual meeting.

The experts criticized the fact that the UN health agency did not respond adequately last year to warnings about the outbreak, which started at the end of 2013 in West Africa.

WHO had declared an international health emergency only in August, when 1 000 people had already died in West Africa.

Accountability and monitoring

The UN agency failed to engage properly with local communities in the early stages of the outbreak and did not co-operate enough with aid groups on the ground, the experts found.

"In response, the [WHO] secretariat needs to take serious steps to earn this leadership role in relation to outbreaks and emergency response and to regain the trust of the international community," the panel said.

"This will require accountability and monitoring," it added.

They advised the organisation to streamline its bureaucracy, build up its leadership skills and set up flexible emergency response teams.

More than 11 000 people have died from Ebola in West Africa, where the outbreak has been subsiding. Liberia was declared Ebola-free on Saturday, but outbreaks persist in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Read more on:    who  |  liberia  |  guinea  |  sierra leone  |  health  |  west africa  |  ebola
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