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Reports On Lessons Learned From Ebola Overemphasize WHO’s Role, Undervalue Local Communities’ Roles

The Guardian: We cannot learn the lessons of Ebola if we continue to undervalue local efforts
David Miliband, CEO and president of the International Rescue Committee

“…The International Rescue Committee has analyzed seven reports into where things went wrong and how we can do better next time. … [T]he reports concentrate on what the top levels of the WHO were doing, and undervalue some key players who carried out the bulk of the response. Above all, the voices of people in the local community who responded to the outbreak are neglected. … The reports give almost no scrutiny to those who provided the bulk of the response … Other U.N. agencies, NGOs, militaries, donors, and public health agencies collectively played a much larger role in the response, in terms of staff deployed, cases detected, contacts traced, bodies buried, samples tested, and money spent, among other metrics. The reports miss the opportunity to review the data and analyze their performance. … These reports perpetuate a pattern in which international experts deal with health problems as a technical issue, leaving the real problems to fester and hinder progress. Mixing politics with public health makes for awkward conversation. But we can’t prevent the next epidemic without having that conversation” (4/8).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.