Based on lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola has listed 10 recommendations for changes aimed at safeguarding against future catastrophic global health emergencies.
The panel, assembled by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Harvard Global Health Institute, stated that the changes is it recommending fall into four categories: governing the global system for preventing and responding to outbreaks; producing and sharing of knowledge, technology and data through research; responding to major disease outbreaks; and preventing major disease outbreaks.
These are paraphrased versions of their proposals:
- The global community should devise strategies for making global health systems stronger, including financing to assist developing countries to do so.
- The WHO should publicly praise countries that swiftly report disease outbreaks and name and shame those that retard reporting. Monetary incentives to compensate countries for losses connected to transparent disease reporting should be created.
- The WHO should create a permanent outbreak centre with an assured budget, which should report directly to the director general.
- The WHO should appoint a permanent emergency committee of professionals to advise it on the threat caused by outbreaks. This committee should be able to assemble itself and should think about adopting a graded system of warnings. At present, emergency committees are only able to announce that something is or is not a world emergency.
- An independent accountability commission should be created by the UN, which assesses response to major disease outbreaks.
- The scientific industry, community, NGOs and governments should create rules for carrying out research during an outbreak and a program for speeding up research between crises.
- Research financers should create a facility to fund development of disease tests, drugs, vaccines and other essential medical equipment for diseases which the pharmaceutical industry does not develop on its own.
- As part of the UN Security Council, a global health committee should be set up to bring high-level attention to health problems and crises.
- The WHO should refocus on its core functions, concentrating on attempts that only the WHO can carry out.
- The executive board of the WHO should set up a freedom of information policy; countries should stop reserving the financing they provide the WHO; and countries should call for a WHO director general powerful enough to stand up to the strongest governments.