The World Health Organization's Ebola Apology Admits That Nobody Grasped The Scale Of The Problem

As the Ebola outbreak continues to claim lives and spread fear, one question has become more pertinent: just how did the disease spread so out of control? Of course, conservative pundits have their own answers to this question, but most (logical) people have been looking elsewhere for their blame and on Friday, the Associated Press gave us the answer: the World Health Organization admitted its response to the Ebola crisis had been botched, saying — scarily — that bureaucracy was a big part of the problem.

The first cases of Ebola popped up in late 2013, in Guinea. By March, 29 people had died of the disease, and the WHO had issued a warning. It was only in early August — by which time that number had gone up to 961 — that the agency called it a global emergency. Now, the disease has found its way into Europe and America, becoming harder and harder to control. (Not impossible, mind. Just harder.) And the WHO is shouldering a lot of the blame.

According to a worrying internal document the AP got its hands on, a lot of the issue comes down to this: most people in the agency didn't notice or grasp Ebola's deadly potential, and so the response was lax. Ebola reports weren't always sent to the WHO headquarters, half a million dollars in aid didn't make it thanks to "administrative hurdles" and, when an expert Ebola team needed visas to go into Guinea, the head of the office refused to help. It didn't help that many of the WHO country offices in Africa have directors whose appointments were "politically motivated."

"Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall," the document reads.

According to a Washington Post report on the spread of Ebola, the WHO has been going through a rough time; besides losing some of the agency's best employees, the organization has suffered economically, dealing with a series of budget cuts. This may go some way in explaining the organization's seeming ineffectiveness, which has frustrated other organizations. Joanne Liu, international head of Doctors Without Borders, told the Post at the beginning of this month, in reference to the WHO:

We cannot wait for those high-level meetings to convene and discuss over cocktails and petits fours what they're going to do.

Of course, the WHO's not the alone in its bumbling of the Ebola response. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has had to issue a public apology (which was, for many, too little, too late) for all of its mistakes — including letting Thomas Eric Duncan leave early, and atrocious working conditions. Meanwhile, the CDC keeps updating its protocol, trying to keep up with the increasingly insurmountable situation.

Have no fear, though. Christopher Dye, the WHO's director of strategy, told the BBC that it's really unlikely that the U.S. will face a major outbreak, saying:

We're confident that in North America and Western Europe where health systems are very strong, that we're unlikely to see a major outbreak in any of those places.

Yah. You'll have to forgive me if I take that with a pinch of salt, now.

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