The WHO says that the government’s lack of action is adding much to shape the Ebola epidemic ravaging through West Africa and threatening the entire planet. The situation became more serious, and the WHO has released a document demanding for more action if we want to control this epidemic and future ones.

Image via CDC.

The WHO has manned up and took a big part of the blame for not implementing containment programs fast enough. According to a report, there are over 21,000 cases which killed over 8,000 people – though the number is likely a gross underestimate. But WHO also points the finger at world governments; after receiving reports from the over 30 nations which are members of WHO’s executive board, the agency condemned world governments that had been responsible for imposing International Health Regulations in public health risk areas by closing borders as well as stopping who came from affected countries.

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To improve and expand response capacity, the organization addresses the need for having enough of the right experts on its regular staff and for expanding partnerships in surge situations, such as the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN). The WHO is not fit to handle such large scale problems; they only have a skeleton staff to handle logistics. However, anthropologists to advise on how to handle interventions in different cultures are pretty much lacking from the organization.

The WHO wrote five proposals that would enable them to handle future health emergencies, but all of them require some outside help. A bigger budget is required to address rapid response scale-ups when needed, as well as a special “emergency fund”. Many countries are not able to offer a good enough response to an epidemic, and some countries, especially in Western Africa, lack even the minimum requirements for a response; many areas lack even basic hygiene.

Ebola was declared an epidemic on 8 August 2014, with the WHO director saying:

“Countries affected to date simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity on their own. I urge the international community to provide this support on the most urgent basis possible.”

While the international community did react and helped, the reaction simply wasn’t strong enough, WHO concludes. The most affected countries were the ones from Western Africa – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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