International Journal of Advanced Medical and Health Research

: 2016  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3--4

Ebola outbreak in West-Africa exposes the need for reforms in the functioning of the World Health Organization

Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava, Jegadeesh Ramasamy 
 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Third Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Thiruporur-Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Ebola outbreak in West-Africa exposes the need for reforms in the functioning of the World Health Organization.Int J Adv Med Health Res 2016;3:3-4

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Ebola outbreak in West-Africa exposes the need for reforms in the functioning of the World Health Organization. Int J Adv Med Health Res [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Nov 29 ];3:3-4
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The 2014 outbreak of Ebola virus disease which was eventually acknowledged as one of the public health emergencies of international concern exposed multiple deficiencies in the public health system, implementation of the international health regulations (IHR), and functioning of the World Health Organization (WHO) in responding to an outbreak or an emergency [Table 1].[1],[2] This is a fact, as since its emergence, cases of the disease have been reported in ten different nations accounting for more than 28,600 confirmed cases and in excess of 11,300 deaths.[1] This outbreak caused a major dent in the functioning ability of the WHO and its readiness to support capacity building in the affected nations, deployment of an adequate number of health professionals and in establishing linkages with different agencies to expand the coverage of health services.[1]{Table 1}

In fact, the critical analysis of the outbreak and the response highlighted multiple deficiencies in three major facets, namely preparedness of a nation, the readiness of the WHO to initiate a smooth response and early recovery, and inability to identify and mitigate the risk of high threat infectious organisms.[3] In an attempt to bridge the existing gap and strengthen the shortcomings, a roadmap has been laid with an ultimate aim to create the world in which impact of any emergencies is significantly minimized, especially due to an effective, adequate, coordinated action, well-financed, and supervised by the WHO.[3] However, this can only be achieved provided WHO can correctly ascertain the nature (slow/acute onset) and the risk associated with emergencies (outbreaks/natural disasters); develop an action plan to respond to these risks; implement the strategies in such a manner to minimize people's suffering/deaths; ensure early recovery of the health care delivery systems; and involve other stakeholders successfully.[3] Furthermore, there is an indispensable need to strengthen WHO in reducing the health hazards and humanitarian aftermaths associated with an emergency.[3],[4]

Although, it is not easy to accomplish worldwide, nevertheless measures like the development of a global health emergency workforce (foreign medical teams) and deploying them at times of emergencies in coordination with national/international responders; strengthening of the health system at national levels (viz. to enable prompt detection, implementation of appropriate infection and control measures, and delivery of people-centered health services in accordance with the principles of primary health care); establishing an integrated system for surveillance, notification, and reporting; ensuring strict implementation of IHR at different points of entry; integrating information technology with the emergency systems; developing a framework to encourage research and development during outbreaks; and creating funds to appropriately finance health emergencies, can play a crucial role.[3],[4],[5] In addition, the creation of a communications strategy and plan consisting of effective emergency risk communications is also of vital importance.[4]

In conclusion, it is high time that major reforms are made to the different levels of the WHO. This will not only strengthen the organization but will even play a significant role in reducing the sufferings of people and deaths associated with public health emergencies.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1World Health Organization. Ebola Situation Report-17 February, 2016; 2016. Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 Feb 21].
2Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Ebola disease: Infection prevention and control in hospital and community settings. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res 2015;20:526-7.
3World Health Organization. Follow up to the world health assembly decision on the Ebola virus disease outbreak and the special session of the executive board on Ebola: Roadmap for action. Geneva: WHO Press; 2015. p. 1-5.
4Jain M, Sharma A, Khanna T, Arora K, Khari PM, Jain V. Primordial prevention: Promoting preparedness for Ebola virus disease. J Clin Diagn Res 2015;9:OC21-4.
5Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Deployment of foreign medical teams: An initiative to reduce the aftermaths of public health emergencies. Biol Med 2015;S3:006.