Ebola is “a tragedy that taught many lessons”

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Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, addresses the 2015 WHO Executive Board in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Violaine Martin

Ebola is a tragedy that has taught the World Health Organization (WHO) many lessons about how to prevent similar events in the future.

That's according to the Director-General of WHO, Margaret Chan, who spoke on Sunday at a special session of the Organization's Executive Board on reviewing the response to the Ebola virus disease.

The outbreak in mainly Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is the largest, most severe, and most complex in the history of the disease.

Its current death toll is close to 8700.

Ms Chan said WHO helped establish 27 labs, oversaw the construction and operation of many Ebola treatment centres, and coordinated the deployment of nearly 60 foreign medical teams.

In addition, it currently has nearly 700 deployed staff in the three worst affected countries.

But the Director-General said the Ebola outbreak points to the need for urgent change in several areas, including the way WHO operates during emergencies.

The Ebola outbreak revealed some inadequacies and shortcomings, she explained, in the Organization's administrative, managerial, and technical infrastructures.

For this, she is proposing a package of reforms, such as creating faster recruitment procedures and giving what she called "more teeth" to international health regulations.

Concerning the need for new medical products, she said the world must never again find itself empty-handed when a severe epidemic-prone disease strikes.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’31″


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