The Ebola virus disease outbreak in west Africa is pivotal for the worldwide health system. Just as the depth of the crisis ultimately spurred an unprecedented response, the failures of leadership suggest the need for innovative reforms. Such reforms would transform the existing worldwide health system architecture into a purposeful, organised system with an empowered, highly capable WHO at its apex and enduring, equitable national health systems at its foundation. It would be designed not only to provide security against epidemic threats, but also to meet everyday health needs, thus realising the right to health. This retrospective and prospective analysis offers a template for these reforms, responding to the profound harms posed by fragile national health systems, delays in the international response, deficient resource mobilisation, ill defined responsibilities, and insufficient coordination. The scope of the reforms should address failures in the Ebola response, and entrenched weaknesses that enabled the epidemic to reach its heights.
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