WHO director-general assesses global response to Ebola outbreak
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan talked about the global Ebola response during an address on Monday before the Review Committee on International Health Regulations (IHR).
The main purpose of this committee is to review the international community's response to the Ebola-virus outbreak in West Africa, specifically in the areas of prevention measures, response and mitigation. The committee also will be studying the emergency-response framework and WHO's other humanitarian responsibilities.
In her address, Chan said the response to the Ebola outbreak was considered to be inadequate by those involved. Chan said the affected area's health systems and response organizations, including WHO, were overwhelmed by the number of cases in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia during the outbreak.
Chan said previous outbreaks were able to be contained within four to six months, and said the reason why this outbreak had the number of cases it did was because warning signs were missed.
Chan said a change in approach might be necessary, relating to the implementation of the IHR. Chan said that in many countries, it is solely up to their respective health ministries to ensure that capacity requirements of the IHR are met, rather than an interdepartmental approach between related ministries and departments.
Near the end of her address, Chan said some countries should be given more attention, as they are more vulnerable to outbreaks and in need of larger amounts of international support.
"As WHO knows from its experience with vaccines for yellow fever and epidemic meningitis, the promise of assistance can be a powerful incentive for building surveillance and reporting capacity," Chan said. "The aftermath of the Ebola outbreak likely represents our best chance ever to transform the world’s response to epidemics and other health emergencies."