In July, an independent panel charged with assessing the World Health Organization's response to the Ebola crisis released a scathing report blasting the organization for delaying emergency procedures to control the outbreak, which ultimately killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa. Now WHO's director-general, Margaret Chan, is speaking out, vowing to revamp the organization's procedures for responding to emerging diseases--an effort that includes improving its coordination with animal health agencies around the world.
In an exclusive interview with the GroundTruth Project and NOVA Next, Chan acknowledged that more than 70% of emerging diseases come from animals. Ebola, which originated in bats, was a prime example. When asked how society can prevent diseases from jumping to people in the future, Chan said WHO would need to take a leadership role in controlling the international spread of dangerous pathogens.
"We work closely with our animal health partners, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health, to strengthen the monitoring, assessment, control of, and response to diseases of animals which have crossed or potentially can cross the species barrier and infect humans," she said, "and to identify and implement coordinated strategies to reduce the risks to human health."
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