World Health Organization Reform: Lessons Learned from the Ebola Epidemic

Lawrence O. Gostin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

It was October 2014, and Ebola was raging out of control in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization's director-general, defended the organization against charges that its response was late and ineffective: "We are a technical agency, with governments having first priority to take care of their people." In January 2015, the WHO executive board undertook a systematic reform of the agency's performance, and Chan again offered a defense: I followed protocol, leaving it to the Africa office (AFRO) to respond. Yet the three nations could not possibly have stemmed the outbreak alone, and AFRO was known to be dysfunctional. Ebola represents an inflection point requiring fundamental reform for the WHO. A failure of leadership will impact its status and legitimacy for a generation. Here, I offer five reforms that would transform it and ensure that it fulfills its constitutional mission as "the directing and coordinating authority on international health work."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-7
Number of pages2
JournalThe Hastings Center report
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

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WHO
reform
Liberia
Sierra Leone
Guinea
Government Agencies
Illegitimacy
Disease Outbreaks
director
legitimacy
Organizations
leadership
organization
Health
health
performance
World Health Organization
Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy
  • Philosophy
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

World Health Organization Reform : Lessons Learned from the Ebola Epidemic. / Gostin, Lawrence O.

In: The Hastings Center report, Vol. 45, No. 2, 01.03.2015, p. 6-7.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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