The World Health Organization (WHO) has put in place the European Medical Corps in order to combat large disease outbreaks across the world.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan initiated the medical corps after the World Health Agency tasked her to create a worldwide health emergency workforce.
“The Ebola outbreak was a very brutal wake-up call,” Chan said. “The world must never again be caught by surprise, so ill-prepared to cope. All that can be prepared in advance must be done with the utmost urgency.”
The Ebola outbreak, which started in 2014, took the world by storm. It was one of the largest outbreaks in history, sweeping across West Africa. Cases were reported around the world, including deaths in the United States.
“When the outbreak began more than two years ago, the world and WHO were ill-prepared to mount a response on such a monumental scale,” Chan said. “At the start, we had too little of everything, including medical teams. This changed, with support from the European Union playing a decisive role to turn around the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.”
The first task the medical corps could face is the Zika virus, though Chan was quick to squash any comparisons between the Ebola outbreak and the Zika virus.
“Ebola and Zika have many differences,” Chan said. “Ebola is one of the most lethal pathogens on this planet. Zika is not known to be a killer. Since Ebola first emerged in 1976, we have learned a lot about this disease. We know very little about Zika and are just beginning to see its tricks.”