A new report by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and colleagues criticizes the World Health Organization’s leadership during the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and offers recommendations to strengthen public health systems and future responses.
The report, published in The Lancet on November 22, was written by an independent group of 19 international experts convened by the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“The most egregious failure was by WHO in the delay in sounding the alarm,” co-author Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the HGHI and K.T. Li Professor of International Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said. “People at WHO were aware that there was an Ebola outbreak that was getting out of control by spring […] and it took until August to declare a public health emergency […] Those were precious months.”
The panel’s recommendations include the creation of an independently governed WHO center for outbreak response.