Sounding off on WHO’s Ebola response

Medical professionals in protective gear during a clinical management of Ebola patients training. Photo by: PAHO / WHO / CC BY-ND

A year ago, Medecins Sans Frontieres sounded the alarm on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The debate about what could have been done to prevent the disaster continues to this day.

MSF officials have said the institution could have done more by training and deploying more Ebola specialists early on. The World Health Organization, too, has done much soul-searching after reportedly delaying the pronouncement of the outbreak as a public health emergency.

“WHO should have been the one leading the response and supporting the government, not MSF,” Yann Libessart, MSF’s regional communications coordinator for West Africa, told Devex Senior Development Reporter Jenny Lei Ravelo. “There was a vacuum in leadership. For months, unequipped national health authorities and volunteers from a private aid organization bore the brunt of care — there is something profoundly wrong about that.”

Devex readers chimed in over the past week on WHO’s role in the Ebola response.

“She must ‘manage up’ quite well, but seems to have disastrous consequences for others,” a reader called Tara said, citing Chan’s management of the SARS response in Hong Kong, which paved the way to her leadership role with WHO.

Another reader was more blunt, calling for Chan’s resignation for poor mismanagement and the deaths of more than 10,000 people due to Ebola.

Should Margaret Chan resign over WHO’s bungled Ebola response? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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The views in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect Devex's editorial views.

About the author

  • Ma. Eliza Villarino

    Eliza is a veteran journalist focused on covering the most pressing issues and latest innovations in global health, humanitarian aid, sustainability, and development. A member of Mensa, Eliza has earned a master's degree in public affairs and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of the Philippines.

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