Most of the 11,000 deaths due to Ebola could have been prevented, yet the world remains “grossly underprepared” for another infectious disease outbreak, according to a damming BMJ report.
Researchers analysing the global response to Ebola found that despite significant efforts to address shortcomings, governments and humanitarian organisations have failed to tackle several critical issues.
“We found remarkable consensus on what went wrong with the Ebola response and what we need to do to address the deficiencies. Yet not nearly enough has been done,” researchers from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies warned.
The report’s authors said that the diagnosis of the response to Ebola could be broken down into three categories: strengthening compliance with the International Health Regulations, improving research and knowledge sharing and reforming the World Health Organisation.
They added that investment in countries’ health infrastructures had been “inadequate and difficult to track”, that arrangements for the sharing of patient samples “remain weak” and that efforts to address the World Health Organization’s (WHO) institutional shortcoming “have been neglected”.
The warning comes as the WHO’s executive board meets this week to shortlist candidates for the director-general election.
“Ebola, and more recently Zika and yellow fever, have demonstrated that we do not yet have a reliable or robust global system for preventing, detecting, and responding to disease outbreaks,” they report’s authors wrote.
They urged the global community “to mobilize greater resources and put in place monitoring and accountability mechanisms to ensure we are better prepared for the next pandemic.”
“We will not be ready for the next outbreak without deeper and more comprehensive change,” the authors concluded.