The World Health Organization (WHO) is being criticized by a panel of global health experts convened by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine over the organization’s response to the Ebola outbreak that began in West Africa in 2013 — which was worse than all prior outbreaks combined.
In the outbreak, which reached epidemic status in 2014, more than 11,000 people died.
Dr. Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman on Ebola for the World Health Organization, told CNN in a statement that the organization welcomed the panel’s critique and was subsequently carefully reviewing their recommendations as well as those provided by other groups. She referred to the “consensus of thought” on the issues as “gratifying” while stating that a number of the panel’s recommendations were already en route.
A number of its recommendations cover work that is already being done — including steps set in place by WHO in early 2015 (…) It is gratifying to see that there is consensus of thought on many of these key issues.
The panel of experts wrote in their report, which was published on Sunday in the journal The Lancet, that the WHO’s inability “to meet its responsibility for responding to such situations and alerting the global community” was exposed by 2013’s outbreak.
Several of their recommendations, of which there are 10 in total, focus primarily on the development of strategies designed to enhance national disease detection and reporting programs.
Disregard for travel and trade restrictions on behalf of governments as well as private sector entities, lack of clear coordination, inadequate understanding of the global community’s relevance, a lack of attention to the World Health Organization and other variables all contributed to the spread of the rare and deadly disease, according to the expert panel.