WHO to shake up global response to epidemics after Ebola

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The Ebola emergency showed that existing legally binding international health regulations need a rethink, WHO says. Photo: IAEA

Health experts are preparing to meet in the coming days to hammer out new measures aimed at preventing a new Ebola-style epidemic, the UN said Friday.

The initiative comes after World Health Organization (WHO) chief Dr Margaret Chan called for action to change the way that disease outbreaks are planned for and managed.

WHO spokesperson Dr Ruediger Krech said it would be a "disaster" if existing international health regulations are not improved by the time a new global health crisis hits.

Here's Daniel Johnson's report from Geneva.

In the wake of the Ebola outbreak, it's become clear that existing rules on how to deal with public health emergencies have to change.

That's what the World Health Organization (WHO) believes, and according to the UN agency, these rules need to change fast.

Here's WHO's Dr Ruediger Krech:

"We see that things have to be fixed that we saw during the Ebola crisis. But then, this has to be enlarged because the next crisis most likely will not be Ebola but something else…because it's urgent; we cannot wait another five years and then we have another outbreak and then we see that it did not work again. This would be a disaster for all of us."

Dr Krech said that the existing International Health Regulations have been effective since their introduction in 2005.

Every year since then, they've helped member states to raise the alarm more than 100 times on disease outbreaks including polio, plague and cholera.

But the WHO official explained that the regulations haven't worked as well as they needed to when it came to the Ebola outbreak, which has killed almost 11,300 people.

The job of the new WHO taskforce will be to come up with recommendations by the time of the agency's next general assembly in May.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’15″



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