After the poor response of the World Health Organization in the recent Ebola crisis, the board members of the organization got together on Sunday and agreed on starting to reform its structure. The WHO’s performance was inexcusable, and it led to the loss of thousands of lives.
Even though the meeting on Sunday did not present step-by-step solutions or changes, several dozen states who are members of the WHO, and were present, agreed on the importance of improving the U.N. health agency in a way which will make it capable of providing real help in the case of another health emergency.
Tom Frieden is the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and his statements show his great disapproval of the way in which decisions are being made inside the WHO, where political motives have almost always more significance than scientific ones. In the same manner, Margaret Chan, chief of WHO, assessed that the WHO response to the Ebola outbreak was too slow and lethal for approximately 8,600 people, most of them from the territory of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Public opinion expressed by critics says that reforms inside the WHO are long overdue. The damage done by it so far might affect the trust of an entire generation in the reliability of a world organization when it comes to helping in health crises. Therefore, the reforms need to be drastic and fundamental. More than any other crisis, Ebola exposed the core weaknesses of the WHO, when they did not prevent the thousands of completely avoidable deaths.
In consequence, the WHO’s executive board was handed a motion supported by nearly 60 member states, in which they demand urgent measures, such as creating a crisis fund for first-response situations in health emergencies. Moreover, Sally Davies, Britain’s chief medical officer already pledged $10 million from the U.K. to start the proposed fund.
The motion also requested that the WHO initiate a program for health workers, doctors and nurses, ready and trained to fight all sorts of epidemics. In the Sunday meeting, WHO explained that its core design is not to provide first-response in health crises, even though the public might expect that. Two years ago, WHO decided to dissolve its outbreak department, reasoning that its main purpose is to provide technical guidance. However, the new proposed changes will most likely revert that decision and it will challenge the WHO to step up.
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