The World Health Organization has been accused of dithering
in reacting to the deadly Ebola epidemic, by the Belgian microbiologist, Peter
Piot who co-discovered the Ebola virus.
In an interview to Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, Peter
Piot who is director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said,
"It took three months for the WHO to find out there was an Ebola outbreak.
That I understand. Guinea had a poor laboratory infrastructure. I have much
more of a problem with the fact that it took five months for WHO - for the
international health regulations committee, for that's what it is - to declare
this a state of emergency. It took too long. We wasted too much precious time."
Authorities in Guinea and the WHO declared on March 24, 2014
that since January the west African country had recorded 87 suspected cases of
viral hemorrhagic fever, including 61 deaths. Scientists who were studying
samples in the French city of Lyon also confirmed it was Ebola. However, the
WHO did not declare the outbreak a 'public health emergency of international
concern' until August 8, 2014.
In Piot's opinion the response to Ebola needed to address
both the lack of robust healthcare systems and the cultural habits and belief
systems prevalent in the affected countries. He also blamed the mass hysteria in
North America which led to quarantine of people returning from west Africa as a
major deterrent and disincentive for supporting the countries in west Africa.
The Ebola outbreak has claimed 6,070 lives, according to the
latest WHO update, with the vast majority of deaths in Liberia, Guinea and