WHO declines Ebola global alert
In a controversial decision, the World Health Organization (WHO) has again declined to declare Africa’s latest Ebola outbreak global alert, although the desease has killed more than 1400 people and just crossed into a new country.
“It was the view of the committee that the outbreak is a health emergency in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region, but it does not meet all criteria,” Preben Aavitsland, acting chair of an expert committee convened by WHO, said at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
The committee gathered for the third time after news emerged this week that the virus had spread from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to neighboring Uganda, so far claimed lives of two people there—a 5-year-old boy and his grandmother—who had crossed the border.
Many infectious disease experts and public officials had expected, and called for WHO to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) when Ebola broke out of the DRC.
*I’m baffled and deeply troubled by this decision,” Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.. “The status quo is no longer tenable. It is time to sound a global alert.”