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WHO admits slow response to Ebola outbreak

By Haruna Gimba

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday admitted it responded ‘too slow’ in its handling of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Director-General of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, at the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva, also regretted that the virus had recently re-emerged near the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

Dr Margaret Chan

The outbreak, which led to the death of hundreds of people in the West African countries, happened under Ms. Chan’s watch.

The outgoing chief of the global health body, admitted fault, “I am personally accountable. WHO was too slow to recognize that the virus, during its first appearance in West Africa, would behave very differently than during past outbreaks in central Africa, where the virus was rare but familiar and containment measures were well-rehearsed,” Ms. Chan said.

The outgoing WHO chief, however, said the organization made ‘quick course corrections’ to bring three outbreaks under control and helped create the first Ebola vaccine.

The year’s World Health Assembly, which includes 194 countries, would discuss what has been learned from that outbreak, as well as from WHO’s handling of Zika and other diseases.

Experts would also provide an update on how Angola responded to last year’s Yellow Fever outbreak, which exhausted the global vaccine stockpile several times.

Health Reporters gathered that the current cholera epidemic in war-torn Yemen is also on the agenda; only days ago, WHO described it as ‘unprecedented.’

About Asmau Ahmad

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