By OLIVIA MILNE, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
One of the issues discussed at length in the World Health Organization today was how the organization should best cooperate with regional bodies and NGO’s in stopping the spread of diseases. With the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus, and accusations that WHO did not do enough to cooperate with local communities to stop the spread of it, this was an incredibly salient issue in debate today.
Many argued that nations around the world have different cultural practices, and that WHO should work with local community leaders and NGO’s to learn these. According to delegations such as Iceland, this will increase WHO’s responsiveness to disease outbreak. Some stated that a system of early reporting is necessary to preventing the outbreak of disease. However, the delegation of Georgia urged nations to remember that not all nations, especially developing nations, would have the resources to support such a system.
Liechtenstein also discussed the feasibility of working with local communities to prevent disease outbreak. They stated that marginalized communities are often the places most affected by disease outbreak, and often times these are also the hardest local communities with which to get in contact. However, the consensus among many was that by attempting to work with locals, WHO would better be able to respect cultural differences and work more effectively with the populations affected most by the spread of diseases such as Ebola.