Emergencies preparedness, response

Progress in the Ebola response

Updated March 2016

Since July 2014 unparalleled progress has been made by WHO in establishing systems and tools that allowed rapid response. Thanks to the diligence and dedication of tens of thousands of responders, scientists, researchers, developers, volunteers, and manufacturers, we now have diagnostics, a vaccine, registered foreign medical teams, and thousands of trained responders who can rapidly deploy to outbreaks.


WHO and partners are now in Phase 3 of the Ebola response, from August 2015 to mid-year 2016. The overarching goal is to interrupt all remaining chains of Ebola transmission, and to respond to the consequences of residual risks. To do this, several objectives have been outlined and we are working towards enhancing the rapid identification of all cases and contacts, improving Ebola survivor engagement and support, among others.


Today, there are over 10,000 survivors of Ebola virus disease. A number of medical problems have been reported in survivors, including mental health issues. Ebola virus may persist in some body fluids, including semen. Ebola survivors need comprehensive support for the medical and psychosocial challenges they face and also to minimize the risk of continued Ebola virus transmission.


WHO continues to deploy technical experts in the 3 most affected countries and engage not only in response activities, but also in early recovery and survivor support efforts.

WHO and the Global Alert and Response Network have deployed nearly 4,000 technical experts, including Ebola vaccination teams, on the ground in more than 70 field sites in the 3 most affected countries. There are currently over 1,180 personnel in the field supporting the response and recovery efforts.

45 laboratories have been deployed since the start of the Ebola outbreak with WHO and Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens Laboratory Network supporting 29 laboratories; we provided an additional 16 laboratories through bilateral agreements. All of these laboratories tested more than 200,000 patient samples.


WHO continues to support health systems in the affected countries with a focus on early recovery and rebuilding efforts.

WHO has distributed more than 1.48 million sets of personal protective equipment for the Ebola response.

WHO was instrumental in the construction of 70 Ebola treatment centres (ETUs) and more than 800 community care centres (CCCs) and provided 730 hospital beds to ETUs and CCCs

Logisticians have delivered over 42,000 body bags for safe and dignified burials. WHO managed a fleet of more than 600 vehicles to support surveillance and response operations activities and strengthen transportation resources during outbreaks.

WHO manages global supplies of personal protective equipment for rapid deployment to any country in the world. 500 sets of personal protective equipment were delivered to each of 138 countries. Additional stockpiles of personal protective equipment have been placed in warehouses in Accra, Ghana (30,000 sets) and Dubai (50,000 sets).


Surveillance and monitoring remain a critical component towards ensuring all Ebola cases and deaths are reported and followed-up.

We reduced Ebola case incidence from more than 950 cases per week in September 2014 to 5 cases or fewer by July 2015.

The average time from identification of Ebola cases to hospitalization across the 3 countries reduced from 4 in August 2014 to less than 2 days for Liberia and Sierra Leone and 2.5 days for Guinea in April 2015.


We are supporting more than 150 countries worldwide to ensure they are ready to respond to Ebola or other public health emergency.

WHO is providing dedicated and on-the-ground preparedness support to 15 priority countries in Africa to strengthen emergency response systems.

Since October 2014, WHO has conducted 336 multi-partner deployments to priority countries in the African region, covering a total of 3223 days in the field.

Over 79% of priority countries have achieved at least 50% of the preparedness tasks on the Ebola Preparedness Checklist. This is up from 7% in December 2014.

Field exercises and simulations to test response systems have been carried out in 9 priority countries in Africa.

In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone the focus is increasingly on recovery and preparedness. For example, in Sierra Leone, simulation exercises are being used to validate and test rapid response plans.


WHO and partners provided a range of training packages, including training on infection prevention and control, clinical management, environmental health systems, and management of healthcare waste and sanitation.

Together with partners, WHO has contributed to the training of more than 8,600 medical, technical and public health Ebola responders with pre-deployment curricula.

More than 4,500 health responders received clinical management training in the affected countries.

WHO produced 50 technical guidance documents on case management, infection prevention and control, surveillance, safe and dignified burials, and community engagement.


We now have diagnostic tools and services that give results in hours rather than days.

In July 2015, results from an interim analysis of the Guinea Phase III efficacy vaccine trial showed that VSV-EBOV (Merck, Sharp & Dohme) is highly effective against Ebola.

We have an effective global registry of Foreign Medical Teams that continues to grow and is now being used to respond to Ebola and other emergencies.

We have thousands of experts from 120 countries trained in clinical management and infection prevention and control, and more.


Support from donors has been crucial for the rapid scale-up and evolution of the Ebola response. Between March 2014 and 31 December 2015 WHO received over US$ 450 million in direct and in-kind contributions from over 60 donors. This generous support has enabled WHO, in collaboration with the governments and ministries of health of the affected countries, and in concert with international partners, to implement a wide-ranging package of activities and interventions to end transmission of Ebola virus in West Africa.

Every facet of the response — from tracing the contacts of patients with EVD, to helping to design and run clinical trials to test an Ebola vaccine, to coordinating the medical evacuation of international responders — has only been possible thanks to the generosity of our donors.