WHO announces reforms after bungled Ebola response

The World Health Organization (WHO) will overhaul its protocols for handling health emergencies after it faced backlash for how it responded to the deadly Ebola outbreak, CNN reports.

An independent panel of experts known as the Ebola Interim Assessment Panel issued a report earlier in the month that criticized WHO for its delayed and oftentimes disorganized response to the crisis, which may have exacerbated an outbreak that killed 11,000 people in West Africa. It also indicated WHO requires more robust leadership to pilot its crisis response, though the panel emphasized that whenever possible, governments in countries directly affected by health crises should lead the way.

Rather than start a whole new agency, the report recommended that WHO create a new organizational structure to deal with public health emergencies. And that's exactly what WHO intends to do, Director-General Margaret Chan, M.D., said at the organization's annual World Health Assembly.

"I do not ever again want to see this organization faced with a situation it is not prepared, staffed, funded or administratively set up to manage," Chan said, according to CNN.

The new program will feature benchmarks that clearly define how WHO must respond to health emergencies within hours rather than months, Chan said, and will include a global health emergency workforce that the organization can quickly deploy when needed. Chan has asked WHO members for a $100 million fund to execute the plan.

Beyond WHO's role, Ebola taught the world at large valuable lessons about global health security. A report from the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues in February also slammed the United States' reaction to Ebola as focusing too much on its threat to Americans and not enough on the West African nations most affected. American hospitals, however, also learned the hard way that they weren't ready to handle the unique challenges of diagnosing and treating Ebola patients.

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