GENEVA — The World Health Organization must act to ensure it will not be caught flat-footed by future crises the way it was by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the organization’s director general said on Monday.
“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,” the director general, Dr. Margaret Chan, said at the start of a 10-day meeting of the organization’s decision-making body, the World Health Assembly.
As expected, Dr. Chan proposed an overhaul of the organization’s emergency response system, intended to make it faster and more effective. The measures would create a dedicated health emergency work force reporting to the director, with a $100 million contingency fund, and would streamline the organization’s procedures for hiring staff, purchasing supplies and moving them swiftly to where they are needed.
Dr. Chan spoke frankly about the shortcomings of the international response to the Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 11,000 people.