By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday the World Health Organization must streamline its management to respond quickly to crises like West Africa’s “Ebola catastrophe” that has killed more than 11,000 people.
The WHO and its director-general Margaret Chan have come under heavy fire for their slow response to the Ebola epidemic, which began in Guinea in December 2013 but was not declared an international public health emergency until August 2014.
“We ought to have reacted far earlier,” she told the opening session of the annual meeting of WHO’s 194 member states. WHO officials in country and regional offices and the Geneva headquarters must know immediately what to do in a crisis.
“I am convinced that if we act faster and have a clear command structure in place, we will be better equipped to combat a crisis like Ebola next time that happens,” she said.
“The WHO is the only international organisation that has universal political legitimacy on global health issues. This is why it is so important to render its structures more efficient.”
Merkel said Germany would contribute 200 million euros to help developing countries boost their defences against infectious diseases, including 70 million euros for West Africa.