Amid allegations it did not respond quickly enough to the Ebola crisis, the World Health Organization, or WHO, has created a contingency fund and an emergency workforce to help it take swifter action against future outbreaks. Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general, made the announcement at an emergency meeting of the executive board Sunday, Reuters reported.
Ebola "overwhelmed the capacity of WHO," Chan said during a news briefing. "Member states truly understand that the world does need a collective defense mechanism for global health security."
WHO said recently 21,724 Ebola cases have been reported in nine countries and 8,641 people have died, Reuters reported.
"The WHO we have is not the WHO we need, not the WHO we needed to respond to health emergencies of the magnitude of Ebola," Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at the meeting Sunday.
Bloomberg reported a 2011 review of WHO’s response to the swine-flu pandemic recommended the agency establish a $100 million fund for fighting outbreaks. That recommendation has yet to be implemented. Chan said Sunday the figure -- $100 million -- is a “good starting point” for the fund approved by the board Sunday.
“I think you saw the birth of an emergency agency that doesn’t exist today,” said Bruce Aylward, the agency’s assistant director general in charge of the response to Ebola, in an interview with Bloomberg. “What you see here is the potential for some of the most wide-ranging and sweeping reforms in any area of WHO that we’ve seen almost since the organization was established.”
Other aid organizations, including Doctors Without Borders, said it is clear the world lacks a way for dealing with outbreaks in countries with vulnerable health systems.