Catastrophe strikes! Call the UN!
Your outbreak is very important to us. Please stay on the line.
The medical organization that sounded the first alarm about the deadly outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa last year has once again blasted the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) for refusing to recognize the epidemic’s magnitude, downplaying its rapid spread, and failing to take the lead in the battle against the disease even after it was well under way.
Moreover, “the flexibility and agility for a fast, hands-on emergency response still does not sufficiently exist in the global health and aid systems,” warns Joanne Liu, president of Medicins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) the front-line, private medical relief organization that first warned of the fast-growing Ebola disaster a year ago this month.
Even though WHO has since voted to reform some of its torpor, she says that putting the U.N. organization on an efficient and effective footing will not “happen overnight.”
Overall, the update says, there have been 24,743 “confirmed, probable and suspected ” Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — the three worst-affected countries — since the outbreak began, and 10,206 reported deaths.
That toll includes nearly 500 health workers, including 14 members of MSF’s own staff.
One important reason for the massive flowering of the fast-moving, high-fatality virus –the biggest eruption of Ebola ever — was the inaction and ineptitude of WHO, MSF charges.
According to the MSF retrospective, WHO’s negative role went beyond foot-dragging to actually fighting against the warnings first voiced by the voluntary organization, and included accusations that MSF was causing “unnecessary panic.”
To be fair, government inaction and coverup by the African nations themselves hurt efforts as well. Let that be a lesson to us all when politicians start making guarantees about health care.
Of course, the title refers to the UN’s swift maneuver to introduce cholera to the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere, after a devastating earthquake. Poverty, voodoo, machete-wielding gangs—they had every miserable fault, but cholera. Now it’s endemic, thanks to the Nepalese UN aid workers who dug their latrines next to the watering hole. And denied it for years.
And don’t get me started (not now, anyway) on UN complicity in Palestinian Arab infantilism.
Just add this to the list of crimes against humanity committed by an organization that laughably wields a Human Rights Council numbering China, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela among its members. Death by cholera or ebola is practically guaranteed, and a blessing in disguise.