The World Health Organization and the Ebola Challenge

Another one of my articles published under my real name on Impakter. I never worked for the WHO but having spent 25 years of my life with another specialized UN agency (FAO), I believe I have an insider's ability to understand what works and what doesn't work in the UN system...

The World Health Organisation and Ebola

Ebola is a perfect example of what is wrong with the World Health Organization. More and more people have been asking, why is it not present on the ground? Why didn’t it issue a warning sooner? In short, what is it doing (if anything)?

With close to 1900 people already dead since the beginning of the outbreak this year, the international medical agency Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has warned that “the world is losing the battle” to contain Ebola and the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) expects severe food shortages in the three countries most affected by Ebola, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The hardest-hit of the three, Liberia, with 694 deaths, has seen the local market price of the national staple cassava going up 150 percent in August, and that is only the beginning.

On 8 August, the WHO declared Ebola a “public health emergency”. On 28 August, it issued a “road map” to combat Ebola – it is intended as a framework to guide operations. At current infection rates, the WHO fears it could take six to nine months and at least $490 million (373 million euros) to bring the outbreak under control, by which time more than 20,000 people could become infected…And this of course assumes the money will be coming.

Are donors rushing to help? No. Governments, instead of responding,  are quick to put the blame on WHO, or at least imply that WHO plays a part in the overall slow response of the international community.That’s not fair.

Read the rest on Impakter, click here.