Ebola crisis: WHO slammed by Harvard-convened panel over slow response

Updated 5:04 AM EST, Mon November 23, 2015

Story highlights

Report: Lack of reliable, rapid response led to "immense human suffering, fear and chaos"

Liberia confirmed three new cases on Saturday after being declared Ebola-free two months ago

Recommendations include setting up a health committee on the U.N. Security Council

(CNN) —  

A panel of global health experts has strongly criticized the World Health Organization, saying it mishandled the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The panel, convened by Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, called for extensive reform in the way infectious diseases are managed around the world, but singled out the WHO in particular for criticism.

“The most egregious failure was by WHO in the delay in sounding the alarm,” said Ashish K. Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “People at WHO were aware that there was an Ebola outbreak that was getting out of control by spring… and yet, it took until August to declare a public health emergency. The cost of the delay was enormous,” Jha said.

In a statement to CNN, Dr. Margaret Harris, spokeswoman on Ebola for the WHO, said the organization welcomed the report and was reviewing its recommendations carefully, along with those provided by other groups.

“A number of its recommendations cover work that is already being done – including steps set in place by WHO in early 2015,” she said. “It is gratifying to see that there is consensus of thought on many of these key issues.”

’immense human suffering’