WHO Failed On Ebola Response Says Global Health Panel

Posted: Nov 23 2015, 4:25am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

WHO Failed on Ebola Response says Global Health Panel
Ashish Jha --- Photo by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
  • A Critique of the Ebola Response

A critique of the response to the Ebola virus has been made recently by international health experts from Harvard-LSHTM Independent Panel.

A team of 19 experts put two and two together and came up with a vituperative critique of the Ebola response. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa shook the world awake from its slumber. But little was done to stem the flow of the pandemic.

The consortium of sorts took place at Harvard University. The experts from Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) agreed that a lot of effort went into arranging altruistic activities when the 2014-2015 Ebola virus came along.

But they also said that a great deal of pain, torture and pandemonium resulted from the virus and the governments just stood stock still while the rest of the institutions of society also did nothing to eradicate the disease.

The Global Response to Ebola report got published in The Lancet and it came down especially hard on the UN and WHO. The deaths of 11,000 people could be clearly laid at the doorsteps of these bigwigs who sat back and did nothing about the outbreak.

The report was written by members of the Harvard-LSHTM Independent Panel. And these are the people who were in no way connected to the large scale corporations and big government agencies. That is why they lent a sympathetic ear to the plight of the sufferers of the Ebola virus.

The Ebola virus literally brought whole governments down and spread chaos and anarchy in regions already torn by civil war. It created a worldwide panic of sorts and cost billions of dollars in money to the medical establishment.

WHO clearly is the central figure as far as organizations go in sharing the blame. This branch of the UN failed to warn of the upcoming virus in the nick of time. And the result was massive loss of life and limb. The people at WHO were aware of the crisis that lay ahead, but they sat back and took no notice of it.

“The most egregious failure was by WHO in the delay in sounding the alarm,” said Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, K.T. Li Professor of International Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“People at WHO were aware that there was an Ebola outbreak that was getting out of control by spring … and it took until August to declare a public health emergency … Those were precious months,” said Jha.

The panel was co-chaired by Professor Peter Piot, director of the LSHTM and co-discoverer of the Ebola virus. The co-chairman of the report said that the setting up of a central agency in all the countries of the world was a necessity.

This way the detection and control of the various epidemics that appeared could be possible. This was especially needed so as to prevent any future chaos with so many deaths as a result. Like the AIDS virus, the Ebola virus could also have wreaked havoc with the world population.

Liberian Mosoka Fallah of Action Contre la Faim International and a member of the panel said, “The human misery and deaths from the Ebola epidemic in West Africa demand a team of independent thinkers to serve as a mirror of reflection on how and why the global response to the greatest Ebola calamity in human history was late, feeble, and uncoordinated. The threat of infectious disease anywhere is the threat of infectious disease everywhere. The world has become one big village.”

The world had literally become a global village and if something went wrong somewhere, it was likely to have an effect somewhere else. The Ebola virus was a prime example of how things could go wrong so badly. And the inability of health care facilities was very obvious too. Something has to be done to put an end to such cases of SNAFU in the future.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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