Reason for the report was the slow-paced and arguably failing response to the Ebola crisis that started in December 2013 in West Africa, killing more than 11.000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The UN Commission responsible for the report states that this might be the last opportunity to empower the WHO for building an adequate emergency response capacity. The UN Commission concludes that the risk of major health crises is highly underestimated, and that the world’s readiness and capability to react to health crises is miserably insufficient.
The reforms within the WHO are needed to make sure future pandemics don’t reach the proportions of the Ebola crisis, possibly saving thousands of lives in the process. The vector-borne Zika Virus is the WHO’s next public health challenge, and the world’s gazing and scrutinising eyes are watching the WHO’s every move.
The UN Commission’s main recommendation in the report is for the WHO to establish a new Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, which has immediate access to the necessary specialised human and operational resources in case of an emergency, as well as the freedom to intervene without bureaucratic bottlenecks hampering the intervention process.
The UN Commission is convinced of the importance of having a single global health leader, and that there are no doubts that the World Health Organization should be this leader. But to adequately fulfil this role, the WHO does need to reform, according to the report.