Ebola has been constantly in the news over the last year, stirring panic all around the world and decimating local communities, but according to an international panel of experts, a prompter first-response from the World Health Organization could have avoided the epidemic.
An initial analysis of the agency’s response showed that the deadly outbreak that affected mostly poor countries in West Africa could have been easily averted if they had sought outside support earlier in the crisis.
Barbara Stocking, former director of Oxfam, a humanitarian charity, was also the leader of the independent committee; in the report, she said that WHO lacks the strong response needed in case of emergency operations.
After the initial review, the report added that WHO failed to ask for support before August 2014 from other international agencies and humanitarian participants in the system of United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee.
If the available resources would have been tapped in time – in an earlier stage of the crisis – maybe the situation that requested for the creation of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response didn’t exist.
The panel strongly recommended that WHO member nations should make it a priority to invest in the agency in order to improve its abilities of responding quickly in emergencies.
There’s no need to implement more radical solutions such as establishing a new branch of the agency that would deal with health emergencies – it would only make matters more complicated, as it would still have to answer to WHO in any case.
It was no other than the WHO commissioning the committee back in March to review the WHO’s response to Ebola epidemic, in all of its aspects. The final report will be made public in July, after the affected nations will be visited and consulted on the matter.
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia were the most affected – the number of the fallen victims surpasses 11,000, according to the latest report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even though Liberia was declared free this past weekend, Guinea and Sierra Leone are still in the deep, reporting new cases each day.
The report stressed the fact that WHO had no reason to take as long as August or September 2014 to implement the necessary surveillance and community mobilization – its experience with health promotion and outbreaks should have helped them recognize the signs and contain the disease much sooner.
Image Source: America Aljazeera