Ebola Interim Assessment Panel 8 May 2015 [First Report]

Editor’s Note
Prepared in time for engagement during the upcoming World Health Assembly, the first report of the Ebola assessment panel is excerpted below. The panel will present its final report after visiting and consulting with the affected countries, currently set for June 2015.
The panel is chaired by Barbara Stocking, President of Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge the United Kingdom and former chief executive of Oxfam GB; Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfun, Director-General of the National Institute for Biomedical Research, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Dr Faisal Shuaib, Head of the National Ebola Emergency Operations Center, Nigeria; Dr Carmencita Alberto-Banatin, independent consultant and advisor on health emergencies and disasters, Philippines; Professor Julio Frenk, Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts; and Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Director of the Global Health Programme at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland.

Ebola Interim Assessment Panel
Report by the Secretariat A68/25
Provisional agenda item 16.1
8 May 2015 :: 12 pages
Pdf: http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA68/A68_25-en.pdf

[Selected Excerpts]
19. Now is the historic political moment for world leaders to give WHO new relevance and empower it to lead in global health. A strengthened, well-funded WHO can support all countries as they prepare to meet the challenges of increasing global interdependence and shared vulnerability. In response, the Secretariat needs to take serious steps to earn this leadership role in relation to outbreaks and emergency response and to regain the trust of the international community.

20. At present, WHO does not have the operational capacity or culture to deliver a full emergency public health response. A number of options have been suggested by different organizations and individuals: (i) a new agency should be established for health emergencies; (ii) the emergency part of the health response should be led by another United Nations agency; or (iii) investments should be made so that the operational capacity of WHO for emergency response is fully in place.

21. The panel recommends that the third option should be pursued with vigour. Establishing a new agency would take time to put in place and substantial new resources would be required to establish its basic administrative systems, and operational response capacity. A new agency would, in any case, have to rely on and coordinate with WHO for public health and technical resources, creating an unnecessary interface. Similarly, if another United Nations agency were expected to develop health operational capacity, it too would need to coordinate in depth with WHO, especially with respect to the International Health Regulations (2005). All this suggests that, as WHO already has the mandate to deliver on operational response, it would be a far more effective and efficient use of resources to make WHO fit for purpose. This will require the resources and political will of the Member States.

22. The Panel puts this recommendation to the Health Assembly now so that the overarching strategic direction is clear and that change can be driven forward quickly. If Member States agree to this strategic direction, then matters such as the Global Health Emergency Workforce and the proposed Contingency Fund can immediately move to implementation, so that the world is better placed to respond to significant public health emergencies.

23. A WHO that is capable of adequately responding to public health emergencies requires deep and substantial organizational change. The reaffirmation of WHO’s mandate in these emergencies should not be given lightly. This will require accountability and monitoring. Below we set out the key implications…