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WHO Calls For Additional Resources In DRC Ebola Response, Does Not Declare Global Emergency

The Hill: WHO says recent Ebola outbreak not a global emergency
“The World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday that an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in two eastern provinces of Congo does not rise to the level of a global public health emergency. But the group said it is increasingly concerned about insecurity in an area where armed rebel groups operate freely, threatening public health workers who are racing to contain the spread of the virus…” (Wilson, 10/17).

Science: Ebola outbreak in Congo is not yet international emergency
“…The PHEIC designation hinges on the risk of the virus jumping borders, whether the outbreak is ‘extraordinary,’ and whether an international response is necessary, says the panel’s chair, epidemiologist Robert Steffen of the University of Zurich in Switzerland, who spoke [Wednesday] at a press conference at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. In theory, such a designation would help better coordinate and ramp up the response…” (Cohen, 10/17).

STAT: WHO raises concerns over Ebola outbreak, but declines to declare a global health emergency
“…There was nothing to be gained from declaring a PHEIC, and potentially some problems triggered by doing so, Steffen said. … He suggested some countries might use the declaration of a PHEIC as an excuse to bar travel from DRC or the region. … Professor Lawrence Gostin, faculty director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown, said he believed the committee made the wrong call. Declaring a PHEIC would have led to the mobilization of more resources, he said…” (Branswell, 10/17).

Wall Street Journal: WHO Calls for More Resources to Fight Ebola Outbreak
“The World Health Organization called for an intensified response to a worsening Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including more assistance from United Nations peacekeeping troops, as rebel violence and other challenges are preventing health workers from stopping the virus’s spread. … WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency recently briefed the U.N. Security Council and is expecting ‘more response’ from Monusco, the U.N. peacekeeping mission for Congo. The WHO has more than 250 experts deployed in Congo, he said, and is able to fill the gap left by U.S. experts who have had to leave…” (McKay et al., 10/17).

Washington Times: Ebola in DRC not yet a global emergency: WHO
“…WHO wants the U.N. Security Council to stay engaged in the response, saying it will help restore order and allow responders to regain community trust as a result. Countries should continue to stockpile trial vaccines and seek final licensure of the shots, and areas neighboring the affected part of DRC should consider vaccinating their front-line health workers, the WHO’s Emergency Committee advised. … ‘It is time for the global community — especially the United States — to step up their efforts in this outbreak,’ [Ron Klain, White House Ebola response coordinator from 2014-2015,] said in a statement posted to Twitter. ‘This particularly falls on the Trump administration, which to its credit has provided some resources to date — but should and must do more.’ He said global partners need to secure the area, so on-the-ground experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t pushed to the sidelines. He also said the U.S. Agency for International Development should offer more aid” (Howell, 10/17).

Additional coverage of the WHO Emergency Committee meeting on Ebola is available from the Associated Press (2), CIDRAP News, CNN, HuffPost, New York Times, Reuters, TIME, and VOA News.

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