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Experts denounce WHO’s slow Ebola response



Ebola virus

A UN-sponsored independent report by experts on Monday denounced the World Health Organization’s slow response to the Ebola crisis.

“It is still unclear to the panel why early warnings approximately from May through to July 2014 did not result in an effective and adequate response,” an interim report by the experts said.

WHO only declared a global public health emergency on August 8 after the outbreak had taken hold in west Africa.

The epidemic has left more than 11,000 dead, mainly in the west African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, out of over 26,000 cases.

“There were serious gaps in the early months of the outbreak in terms of engaging with the local communities,” the experts said.

“Given WHO’s extensive experience with outbreaks, health promotion and social mobilisation, it is surprising that it took until August or September 2014 to recognise that Ebola transmission would be brought under control only when surveillance, community mobilisation and the delivery of appropriate health care to affected communities were all put in place simultaneously,” they said.

“At present, WHO does not have the operational capacity or culture to deliver a full emergency public health response.”

The experts’ panel is headed by Barbara Stocking, who formerly headed Oxfam.

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