Internal WHO documents obtained by the Associated Press show WHO officials were reluctant to declare West Africa’s Ebola outbreak an emergency until months after receiving dire warnings from the field.
WHO officials were concerned that an emergency declaration or even gathering a committee to discuss it “could be seen as a hostile act.” They worried that a declaration could have “angered the countries involved, interfered with their mining interests or restricted the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in October,” according to the AP story by Maria Cheng and Raphael Satter.
As early as mid-April, an experienced Ebola hand in WHO's Africa office warned officials in Geneva that health workers in a leading Guinea hospital had been exposed. He pleaded, "WE NEED SUPPORT."
The emergency was declared on August 8, after almost 1,000 people had died from Ebola.
In a related story, the AP writers detail 5 key findings from their investigation.