WHO slammed for ‘slow and costly’ response to Ebola outbreak

23 Nov 15

Academics have criticised the international response to last year’s Ebola epidemic and called for governance reforms and better funding of the World Health Organisation.

A group of 20 experts from the Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine agreed that reactions to last year’s Ebola epidemic could have been much improved.

A recent report, published in the Lancet medical journal, analysed the response to the epidemic and flagged serious concerns surrounding global health institutions, including the WHO.

The WHO in particular was criticised for a significant and enormously costly delay in sounding the alarm and declaring a public health emergency in west Africa.

Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said major reforms were “not only feasible, but also essential” to prevent the kind of havoc wreaked by Ebola recurring.

The researchers called for greater accountability and transparency within international institutions and strengthened capacity of small countries, such as those affected by Ebola, to respond to outbreaks.

Critical public health decisions should be separated from political pressures and the WHO should have a fund to support research and development as well a better financial settlement from the international community, the report said.

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