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World Health Organization Owns Up To Shortcomings During Ebola Crisis

The United Nation's (UN) World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency focused on international public health, has posted on their website, that it has committed critical shortcomings during the Ebola crisis and promised changes that will allow the organization to handle the next outbreaks more efficiently and secure global health better.

In a combined statement from WHO Director-General, Deputy Director-General and Regional Directors, they have declared that the Ebola outbreak, which began last December 2013, a definite public health, humanitarian and socioeconomic crisis, resulting to devastated families, communities and countries. WHO was ill prepared and they are currently reviewing reforms and recommendations within the agency for it to improve and be recognized once again as the appropriate public health authority.

Critics pounded the organization for being hesitant to announce the Ebola outbreak a global emergency, one of the significant factors that allowed the spreading of the disease to more than 25,000 cases, and killing 10,000 people, recording it the worst Ebola crisis to date.

The statement, viewed by Reuters last Sunday, filed eight lessons on the website, which include lessons of humility, admitting confusion of responsibilities and roles within its agency's three levels; lessons of fragility, existing health systems were easily collapsed and overwhelmed in an outbreak like this; importance of capacity; lessons about community and culture, taking into consideration cultural practices; lessons of solidarity, that shared susceptibility signifies shared responsibility and sharing resources and information is a necessity; challenges of coordination; lesson that market-based system do not distribute commodities for neglected endemic or epidemic diseases; and the importance of communication, involving communities and its leaders.

The planned resolution includes the availability of at least 1,000 additional skilled staff members as a reserve force in emergency cases, to be known as Global Health Emergency Workforce, composed of trained and certified health workers; establishment of a Contingency Fund; building stronger partnerships with other agencies like UNICEF; strengthening of the International Health Regulations, being the framework for preparedness and surveillance for health threats and better communication for timely responses and community engagement.

The Geneva-based organization is calling on world leaders for vigilance of disease threats and to focus on prevention as it is less expensive than cure. They also wanted to promote transparency in reporting and accurate information, and to invest locally in development and research of neglected diseases with outbreak potential.

WHO proclaimed renewed commitment in handling disease outbreaks, humanitarian emergencies and public health security in general. Though the statement was noted April 16 on the website, it was uncertain when it was published online as it was not communicated by email or WHO's Twitter channels.

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CMLF News Issue #7
27th January 2016