Speed Reads


Experts: WHO blunders led to 'thousands and thousands' of African Ebola deaths

The World Health Organization bungled its response to the deadly Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia with its "toxic mix of avoidable problems," including "weak leadership, shoddy supplies, and infighting," according to an Associated Press investigation. In all, the epidemic cost more than 11,000 lives in 2014 and 2015, and it isn't officially over yet.

The AP investigation focused on Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone, where, among other problems and shortages, WHO used some batches of expired government-issued chlorine bleach, where chlorine was, in the words of hospital porter Juma Musa, "the only thing that was giving us courage to come closer to patients." Other aid organizations flew in their own chlorine bleach powder.

WHO officials defended the agency's actions in the fight against Ebola, noting the larger problems of local customs and population movement. But Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness, disagrees. "There's no question that a better and earlier response from WHO could have resulted in thousands and thousands of fewer deaths than we saw," he told AP. "By the time WHO got in there, they were disorganized and late to the party." You can learn more at AP and in the video below. Peter Weber