After Criticizing Donor Countries, WHO Endorses New Emergency Measures


It’s the World Health Organization’s turn to be at the receiving end. After the world health body blamed its member countries’ apathy with respect to the surge in Ebola cases, it in turn was criticized by the member donors.

The members are urging for the creation of an emergency fund as a way of responding to future emergencies similar to the Ebola epidemic.

WHO’s director general, Dr. Margaret Chan admitted that what just happened should be an eye opener for the WHO to bolster its ability to handle emergencies and to come up with plans to make easier to enlist workers to handle the fight in the battle fronts.

In 2014, 21,724 Ebola cases have been reported involving nine countries of which 8,641 people have died, the WHO says.

“We know significant changes are needed. This is the best chance to achieve those changes,” Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), told the special session of the WHO Executive Board in Geneva.

“We have to be frank that too many times the technical is over-ruled by the political in WHO. We have to reverse that. It must be technical, from the selection of regional directors to the establishment of rapid response.”

The session was ordered by member countries who want reforms in response to a strong criticism to the slow response of WHO, an agency of United Nations, particularly it’s Africa regional bureau in Brazzaville.

Ebola cases are starting to slow down in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the worst-case scenario had been averted, Chan said. “But we must maintain the momentum and guard against complacency and donor fatigue.”

Approximately $4 has been spent in trying to contain the spread of the virus. Another $1 billion is needed this year, U.N. special envoy David Nabarro said.

Donors led by the United States and South Africa submitted a plan stating the “short-comings in WHO’s human resources systems and processes slowed down the Ebola response”.

The document, which calls for establishing an emergency fund and speedy hiring of emergency workforce from all over the world and the equally speedy deployment in the future, is expected to pass. The vote will be done by consensus.

“Countries in the African region feel that building WHO’s capacity to respond to emergencies must be a priority activity,” said Liberia’s deputy health minister Dr. Bernice Dahn, speaking on behalf of 47 member states on the continent.

“The Africa region feels governance reform is important. We have been disappointed by slow progress,” she said.



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