Internal document faults global health agency in Ebola response

The World Health Organization botched the response to contain the Ebola virus, it admitted in an internal document obtained by the Associated Press.

The document blamed “nearly everyone” trying to respond to the outbreak for missing “some fairly plain writing on the wall.”


“A perfect storm was brewing, ready to burst open in full force,” the United Nations agency claimed in an early draft of a timeline of the crisis that has yet to be released to the public.

Internal WHO bureaucracy was a part of the problem, it said, pointing to “politically motivated appointments” to lead some African country offices. 

On Saturday, the WHO said it would not discuss the results of the internal document, which has yet to be finalized.

“A WHO internal document recently obtained by some media outlets was the first draft of a small team documenting the chronology of the Ebola outbreak events for future review,” the agency in a statement. “This document has not yet been fact-checked or reviewed by WHO staff involved in the initial response to Ebola, and is part of an on-going analysis of our response.”

Thorough analysis will be made public “once the outbreak is under control,” it added.

“We are a public health organization and our focus right now must be to stop this outbreak and save lives. We cannot divert our limited resources from the urgent response to do a detailed analysis of the past response.”

The largest ever Ebola outbreak in history has led to more than 4,500 deaths in West Africa, and thousands more cases of infected people there.

The first U.S. Ebola patient died earlier this month. Two nurses who attended to him have since been diagnosed with the fatal virus and are receiving intensive care at hospitals in Atlanta and suburban Washington.