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WHO declares Ebola epidemic an international emergency

Source:WHO

Updated: 2014-08-08

The first meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) [IHR (2005)] regarding the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD, or “Ebola”) outbreak in West Africa was held by teleconference on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 from 13:00 to 17:30 and on Thursday, 7 August 2014 from 13:00 to 18:30 Geneva time (CET).

Members and advisors of the Emergency Committee met by teleconference on both days of the meeting1. The following IHR (2005) States Parties participated in the informational session of the meeting on Wednesday, 6 August 2014: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.

During the informational session, the WHO Secretariat provided an update on and assessment of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The above-referenced States Parties presented on recent developments in their countries, including measures taken to implement rapid control strategies, and existing gaps and challenges in the outbreak response.

After discussion and deliberation on the information provided, the Committee advised that:

the Ebola outbreak in West Africa constitutes an ‘extraordinary event’ and a public health risk to other States;

the possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus, the intensive community and health facility transmission patterns, and the weak health systems in the currently affected and most at-risk countries.

a coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola.

It was the unanimous view of the Committee that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have been met.

The current EVD outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013. This outbreak now involves transmission in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. As of 4 August 2014, countries have reported 1 711 cases (1 070 confirmed, 436 probable, 205 suspect), including 932 deaths. This is currently the largest EVD outbreak ever recorded. In response to the outbreak, a number of unaffected countries have made a range of travel related advice or recommendations.

In light of States Parties’ presentations and subsequent Committee discussions, several challenges were noted for the affected countries:

their health systems are fragile with significant deficits in human, financial and material resources, resulting in compromised ability to mount an adequate Ebola outbreak control response;

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