The World Health Organization is to set up a $100m (£63m) emergency contingency fund following the Ebola outbreak, its director-general has announced. Speaking in Geneva, Margaret Chan said the WHO had been overwhelmed by the epidemic in West Africa.
She said the demands were more than 10 times greater than anything else it had experienced. The Ebola outbreak was first reported in March 2014 and is believed to have claimed more than 11,000 lives.
The WHO and Ms Chan had faced criticism for the slow international response to the epidemic. “With the support of member states, I am establishing a $100m contingency fund, financed by flexible voluntary contributions, to ensure we have the necessary resources available to immediately mount an initial response,” Ms Chan told WHO’s annual meeting.
She also said that, among other measures, she was putting in place a new “unified” programme to help deal with health emergencies. “I do not ever again want to see this organisation faced with a situation it is not prepared, staffed, funded, or administratively set up to manage,” she said. “We will move forward on an urgent footing. I plan to complete these changes by the end of the year.” Ms Chan added that the Ebola outbreak “shook this organisation to its core” but she hoped the reforms would help give it “new relevance and empower it to lead in global health”.