A Belgian scientist who discovered the Ebola virus in 1976, Prof.Peter Piot, has criticised the World Health Organisation, for its late response to the epidemic. Piot, who is a director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said, “WHO has been sleeping.” According to him, “The WHO only woke up in July, whereas the epidemic began in December last year, and health experts sounded the alarm in early March. There is new leadership but it is late.’’

Piot made his observations just as first cases of the virus were announced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country where the virus was identified in 1976. The epidemic has reportedly killed more than 1,200 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in its latest outbreak.

Piot also added that the latest outbreak is unprecedented in history. “In the last six months, we have been witnessing what can be described as a perfect storm. Everything is there for it to snowball. (The epidemic) is exploding in countries, where health services are not functioning and are ravaged by decades of civil war. In addition, the public is deeply suspicious of the authorities. Trust must be restored. Nothing can be done in an epidemic like Ebola if there is no trust,’’ he said.

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