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3 Critical Challenges for Global Health Security

International institutions are poised to make one of the most momentous decisions about the future of global health security since the formation of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948.

By the end of this year, 5 global commissions will have published major critiques of global health preparedness, all spurred by the Ebola epidemic, which exposed deep flaws in the international system.

These commissions include the WHO’s independent Ebola Interim Assessment Panel, which reported in July that senior leaders failed to respond effectively during the crisis in West Africa, calling for “significant transformation” of the agency; the WHO Review Committee on the International Health Regulations (IHR), which held its first meeting in Geneva late August; the Harvard/London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Independent Panel on Ebola, which will issue its report next month; the Global Health Risk Framework Commission of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine); and the United Nations (UN) secretary-general formed a High-Level Panel, which includes sitting heads of state to provide political support for major reforms of the global health system.

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