WHO Executive Board - 138th Session 25-30 January 2016
EB138 - Final statement by India as delivered on  26.01.2016 agenda item 9.1 - update on Ebola virus disease outbreak WHO Executive Board - 138th Session 25-30 January 2016 EB138 - Final statement by India as delivere..

WHO Executive Board - 138th Session
25-30 January 2016

Agenda item 9.1: 2014 Ebola outbreak and issues raised: follow up to the Special Session of the Executive Board on the Ebola Emergency (resolution EBSS3.R1) and the Sixty-eight World Health Assembly (decision WHA(10))

Madam Chair,

1.   We have perused the various reports provided under this agenda item and note that a number of commendable initiatives have been taken by WHO in the wake of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, culminating towards a high level design for a new WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

2.   With out doubt, WHO must be well equipped and geared to effectively deal with public health emergencies. However, as noted in EB138/55, serious existing gaps in emergency response such as poor funding, inadequate capacities and technical resources need to be urgently addressed. In our view, technical and financial resources must be located, channelized and made available for the identified gaps at all the WHO levels, in particular the local levels.

Madam Chair,

3.   Overwhelming of national capacities for public health emergencies, a phrase used in the EB document, requires precise definition and assessment mechanism. Who will decide, how and whether without the explicit request and cooperation from the concerned national government, the proposed WHO Emergency Health Management structure will be able to lead and coordinate the international health response should be explained. Such responses are generally multi-sectoral and a few exceptions not withstanding, WHO can supplement and not supplant national efforts.

4.   We also need to know how the proposed operational entity will draw heavily on WHO's political assets. This term needs to be defined and explained. We apprehend that a parallel structure of the new operational entity, which somehow appears to be like an elite health workforce, may not receive sustained financial support and hence should not duplicate the work already being done by existing WHO personnel at the three levels.

5.   Multitasking should be encouraged and the existing personnel available, with better training and capacity building, can be drawn to deliver at the time of public health emergencies. This will not only reduce costs but will also reduce conflicts between existing and new personnel.

6.   A clear hierarchy and role clarity, in particular for the relation between the Regional Directors and the Executive Director must exist without ambiguity. The sentiment behind collaboration of RDs with the Executive Director is appreciated but the modalities of this collaboration must be specified.

7.   We welcome the independent oversight body to be established to report to the EB. As the said body will report to EB, it should be appointed by the Member States, without which it will not be truly independent. Besides the tenure, compensation and terms of reference of the oversight body will need to be carefully worked out.

8.   We welcome that preliminary assessment of funds required for the roll out and scale up of WHO's new programme has been worked out. We trust the figures mentioned have emerged after due diligence because shortage of funds in the middle of a health emergency may be self-defeating.

9.   Sufficient funds allocation is also required for strengthening R&D for epidemic causing pathogens and CEWG principles should be integrated into the proposed blue print to ensure timely access to life saving drugs and vaccines for all those in need.

10.   While keenly awaiting more details regarding the proposed Health Emergency Programme structure, capacity and requirement assessment, processes and procedures, India supports the positive action being taken by WHO to better equip itself to deal with public health emergencies.

Thank you Madam Chair.