Charity slams WHO over Ebola outbreak
'Meetings happened. Action didn’t,' says Medecins Sans Frontieres report.

A "vacuum of leadership" at the World Health Organization has been blamed for exacerbating the 2014 Ebola crisis.

Medecins Sans Frontieres released a new report on Monday to mark the first anniversary of the lethal outbreak in West Africa last year.

"Pushed to the Limit and Beyond” accuses the WHO of responding late to warnings about the disease as well as failing to give leadership as the crisis worsened.

Speaking on Monday, Christopher Stokes, MSF general director said: "When it became clear early on that it was not simply the number of cases that was creating concern, but indeed the epidemic’s spread, clear direction was needed and leadership should have been taken."

"The WHO should have been fighting the virus, not MSF," he added.

Ebola – a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure – has killed nearly 9,976 people, mostly in West Africa, according to a March 11 WHO status report.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were the worst affected. In Liberia alone, the virus claimed at least 4,162 lives.

MSF emergency coordinator, Marie-Christine Ferir said that in early July 2014, after an Outbreak Response Network meeting in Geneva "there was a clear lack of leadership from the WHO: decisions on setting priorities, attributing roles and responsibilities, ensuring accountability for the quality of activities, and mobilizing the resources necessary were not taken on the necessary scale."

"Meetings happened. Action didn’t," claimed Ferir in the report.

The Paris-based health charity dedicated the report to the 500 health workers who died fighting the deadly epidemic.

MSF has also warned that despite the decline of infected cases in early 2015, causing some speculation about the end of the epidemic, "Ebola is not over until there are zero cases in the region for a period of 42 days."

The WHO was unavailable for comment.

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Last Modified: 2015-03-24 09:49:12
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