The Ebola crisis created too much pressure on African countries especially the West and the International Health Organizations like WHO. An independent report was released and WHO was reported to have many failures. The organization was criticized for not reacting faster to the deadly virus, which killed 11,000 people in West Africa.
The report commissioned by WHO called for immediate changes in the organization. The advisory panel blamed the organization’s bureaucratic culture for failing to respond rapidly to early warning signs of the Ebola outbreak and not declaring a global public health emergency until August 8, 2014, by which time more than 1,000 people had already died of the virus.
“WHO does not have a culture of rapid decision-making and tends to adopt a reactive, rather than a proactive, approach to emergencies,” the panel said in its report.
“In the early stages of the Ebola crisis, messages were sent by experienced staff at headquarters and the Regional Office for Africa, including after deployments in the field, about the seriousness of the crisis. Either these did not reach senior leaders or senior leaders did not recognize their significance.”
The panel, headed by Barbara Stocking, a former head of Oxfam GB, called for a separate emergency preparedness and response unit within the WHO. The report also recommended a $100 million contingency fund to be set aside for future emergencies.
Who was to blame? That is the question that many people including the press asked. The report was criticized because it never focused on individuals. Some reports claimed nothing has changed since a similar report was published in response to how the WHO dealt with the 2009 swine flu pandemic. The agency was majorly criticized for its sluggish efforts to contain the virus and were partly explained by a hope that the crisis could be managed by good diplomacy.
“This is a defining moment for the health of the global community,” the report said. “ WHO must re-establish its pre-eminence as the guardian of global public health. This will require significant changes.”
In response to the many critics WHO welcomed the report and thanked the hard-working members of the panel for their review. The panel members divided their review and recommendations into 3 areas: the International Health Regulations, WHO’s health emergency response capacity and WHO’s role and cooperation with the wider health and humanitarian systems. The organization has already made plans to adopt some of the recommendations, with the global health emergency workforce and the contingency fund in development. Reports iflScience.