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Independent Panel Criticizes WHO’s Ebola Response, Calls For Changes

News outlets discuss a new report from the Ebola Interim Assessment Panel and the WHO’s response.

Christian Science Monitor: Report slams WHO for slow Ebola response
“A new report released by a panel of experts examined the World Health Organization’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and criticized the organization for letting political considerations sway its decision-making…” (Maza, 7/7).

CIDRAP News: WHO independent panel calls out Ebola response flaws
“An independent committee appointed to review how the World Health Organization (WHO) performed during West Africa’s Ebola outbreak found several management and cultural problems that slowed the response, but it also said flaws in the International Health Regulations (IHRs) posed tough obstacles…” (Schnirring, 7/7).

Devex: Panel pushes for WHO center for health emergencies
“The World Health Organization should establish a single, unified WHO Center for Health Emergency Preparedness and Response — but not with Director-General Margaret Chan at the helm. In its final report, launched Tuesday, July 7, the panel tasked to review WHO’s early response to the Ebola crisis asked the leadership of the U.N. health agency to establish an independent board to oversee the center, which it deemed needed ‘new organizational structures and procedures’…” (Ravelo, 7/7).

Frontline: Report: Ebola Outbreak Exposed ‘Organizational Failings’ at WHO
“…The report also called for a $100 million contingency fund that would allow the WHO to respond to health emergencies more quickly. The report supported the idea of increasing the WHO’s operational capacity to deal with health emergencies, instead of handing over the emergency response portion of a health crisis to another U.N. agency altogether…” (Boghani, 7/7).

International Business Times: Ebola Outbreak Not Over, World Health Organization Warns Amid Criticism That It Failed To Stop Deadly Epidemic
“The Ebola outbreak that sparked a global panic has for the most part receded from headlines, but the threat is far from over, the World Health Organization cautioned Tuesday. The outbreak, which began in West Africa in the spring of 2014, ‘continues to constitute a public health emergency of international concern,’ the organization said, a warning only heightened by the scathing conclusions, also released Tuesday, of a panel assessing the organization’s own response to the crisis as woefully inadequate…” (Whitman, 7/7).

Los Angeles Times: Changes urged at World Health Organization after bungled Ebola response
“…The WHO welcomed the panel’s findings. In a statement Tuesday, it said it was already moving forward on some of the recommendations, including the development of a global workforce that can be deployed in a health emergency and the establishment of a contingency fund to ensure that resources are available for the initial response. Others will be discussed at a meeting in August…” (Zavis, 7/7).

New York Times: Panel Calls WHO Unfit to Handle a Crisis Like Ebola
“…The report urged the agency’s regional and country representatives to be independent and ready to speak out against recalcitrant governments that do not take sufficient action on their own. And it faulted donor countries for stripping the agency’s funding, urging them to contribute immediately to a ‘contingency fund’ designed to respond to disease outbreaks…” (Sengupta, 7/7).

PBS NewsHour: WHO’s 21-step program to better tackle Ebola-level health crises
“…The same panel of health specialists released a preliminary report in May that said the world body was ‘slow’ in its response to the Ebola outbreak. The panel said in both reports that the WHO should continue to coordinate the international response to health emergencies because it would only complicate matters to put another entity in charge…” (Epatko, 7/7).

POLITICO: WHO gets failing grade for Ebola response
“…Experts urged major changes to the organization and its main governing framework, the 2005 International Health Regulations, including building a Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response, overseen by an independent board. It also called for an overhaul of the group’s contribution policy, suggesting a $100 million contingency fund filled by voluntary contributions…” (Kim, 7/7).

Reuters: Experts call for immediate WHO reform after Ebola exposes failings
“…The 2005 International Health Regulations were reviewed and changes recommended in 2011 after the 2009/2010 H1N1 flu pandemic, the panel said, but many countries have not acted on that review — a failure that made the Ebola response even worse. ‘Had the recommendations for revision made in 2011 by the Review Committee in relation to Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 been implemented, the global community would have been in a far better position to face the Ebola crisis,’ the report said…” (Kelland, 7/7).

ScienceInsider: Updated: Independent group pans WHO’s response to Ebola
“…The report also criticizes WHO for taking too long to coordinate the response to the outbreak and for failing to mobilize community leaders, particularly women, early on. It took too long to prioritize culturally sensitive messages to ensure support from the stricken populations, the report says…” (Kupferschmidt, 7/7).

U.N. News Centre: After missteps on Ebola, WHO must re-establish itself as ‘guardian of global public health’ — review panel
“…On WHO’s role and cooperation with the wider health and humanitarian systems, the panel concluded that during the Ebola crisis, the engagement of the wider humanitarian system came very late in the response. ‘The Panel was surprised that many donors, governments, the United Nations, and international non-governmental organizations understood only either the health emergency or the humanitarian system,’ it said…” (7/7).

Washington Post: Panel slams WHO Ebola response, calls for new center for health emergencies
“…The experts — led by Dame Barbara Stocking, president of a college in Britain and former chief executive of the charity Oxfam — called for the WHO to establish a new division with new staff and a new director that would coordinate emergency preparation, coordination, and response. That was one of the only bright spots in the report for the WHO…” (Cha, 7/7).

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