Declaration Debate

The Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is “definitely a public health emergency,” the UK’s international development chief Rory Stewart told The Guardian. A declaration would make it easier to fill a $100 million funding gap, Stewart noted.
But the WHO has declined 3 opportunities to declare a global health emergency in an outbreak that has tallied 2,408 cases and 1,625 deaths, H5N1 reports.
Writing in The Lancet Friday, WHO officials explained why. For one, the International Health Regulations aim to minimize travel and trade disruptions; a declaration could impede response efforts by hindering both, they wrote.
The public health community must weigh the risks and benefits of “using this strong instrument of international law to raise awareness and resources—a policy that could jeopardise the future effectiveness of these regulations in sectors of society other than health,” they wrote.

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