The Ebola Review, Part I
The G-7 nations will commence their annual summit on June 7 in Germany, and the host, Chancellor Angela Merkel, has put the Ebola epidemic and it implications for global biosecurity at the top of the agenda. Yes, the Islamic State, climate change, economic issues, FIFA, and tens of thousands of immigrants and refugees washing up on the shores of Europe and Asia will be addressed as well, but the concern over the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) performance and the more than 11,000 Ebola deaths is taking center stage at this year’s summit.
Among the litany of mistakes that critics have charged the WHO with during its handling of the Ebola outbreak in 2014 are two top misjudgments. First, the agency’s leaders in both Geneva and the WHO’s Regional Office for Africa, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, concluded in late March 2014 that the Ebola outbreak in Guinea was winding down and that most of the infected individuals had been identified and were being monitored, so it was safe to withdraw international experts from the region. They were wrong. At that point the virus had already spread across Guinea’s borders into Sierra Leone and Liberia and was claiming lives in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, spawning the first urbanized Ebola outbreak in history.
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