Emergencies preparedness, response

A year of the Ebola response "at a glance"

WHO Ebola response activities 2014-2015

25 March 2015

In a year of working to control the West African outbreak, which started in Guinea forestière, a region where the borders between Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone meet, and eventually spread to nine countries, WHO has mounted its largest emergency operation ever. WHO is now present in 77 field sites with more than 710 staff across 3 most affected countries, as well as personnel in Mali. Here, in an at-a-glance summary, are the elements of that response - the people, the equipment, the research and technical advice and information needed and provided to stop case numbers rising, and bring them ever closer to zero.

Staff and expert deployments

Since 23 March 2014, WHO has deployed 2013 technical experts, including 562 individuals through the GOARN network, to the Ebola outbreak response in West Africa. Of those, 777 have gone to Guinea, 460 to Liberia, and 668 to Sierra Leone.

In addition, 108 individuals were deployed to Nigeria, Mali, and Senegal. Among those deployed, there have been 600 epidemiologists, 76 field coordinators, 73 data managers, 242 laboratory technicians, 26 clinicians, 110 logisticians, 128 IPC specialists, 44 communications officers, 53 social mobilization/community engagement experts and 15 anthropologists.


WHO has coordinated the deployment of more than 230 experts to 26 mobile laboratories through the Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens Laboratory Network (EDPLN), which is a central pillar of GOARN. These field laboratories can test more than 750 samples per day, if needed. This capacity has enabled the rapid confirmation of cases in the three most-affected countries.

Ebola treatment units and foreign medical teams (FMT)

Since August 2014, WHO has assisted with the construction of 5 Ebola treatment units (ETUs) and provided technical support during the establishment of an additional 72 and at least 85 community care centres and 78 holding centres in the three affected countries. This was done in partnership with MSF, Emergency, Partners in Health, IFRC, IMC, IOM, Samaritan’s Purse, and Save the Children, among others. Technical support provided by WHO in the ETUs included IPC, training, clinical advice, occupational health and safety, and FMT coordination.

WHO also assisted in the deployment of 58 foreign medical teams and technical experts from, but not limited to, the African Union, China, Cuba, Denmark, France, Norway, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States. On 22 March 2015, 152 members of the Cuban medical team returned home.

Guidelines and technical documents

WHO has developed nearly 60 technical documents and guidelines for experts responding to the Ebola outbreak. These cover a broad range of public health topics and include guidance on preparedness, surveillance, outbreak control, and evaluation for Ebola and Marburg epidemics; infection prevention and control guidance; guidelines on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE); how to conduct safe and dignified burials; a clinical management pocket guide for viral haemorrhagic fevers; a manual for care and management of patients in Ebola treatment units; and key messages for social mobilization and community engagement (with UNICEF).


Since 23 March 2014, WHO has provided more than 250 visual aids, facilitator’s guides, and other training materials by WHO IPC and clinical management trainers to the Ebola response training community.

WHO has provided predeployment training for more than 1 500 staff, consultants, clinicians, communicators, and technical experts. In addition to in-person training, online training modules have been accessed by over 1 400 users in 123 countries.

Partnerships and collaboration

WHO has partnered with world-leading organizations in response to this outbreak. We have also utilized our partner networks – the Global Operations Alert and Response Network (GOARN), the Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens Laboratory Network (EDPLN), and the WHO Emergency Communications Network (ECN) – to provide experts in outbreak response.

Our UN partners have included: UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOCHA, IOM, and WFP, as well as UNMEER. All of these partners helped WHO ensure the response has had strong operational and technical expert.


Since 23 March 2014, WHO has deployed more than 100 international and national logisticians to the Ebola outbreak response in West Africa. These individuals handle national and field coordination in the three affected countries, and are technical experts in vaccination logistics and cold chain management; supply chain and transport capacity; fleet and driver management; water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), infection prevention and control (IPC) support, and safe burial management; patient and forensic sample transport; medical facility management and maintenance; and telecommunications and security.

WHO logisticians have trained hundreds of teams in the protocols for safe and dignified burials in Ebola settings. They helped build the first Ebola treatment centre in Kenema, Sierra Leone, and have placed nearly 700 beds in treatment, care, and holding centres in all three countries. Logisticians have managed a fleet of more than 400 vehicles and countless motorcycles and bikes, which have been critical in surveillance, contact tracing, response, and burial activities.

More than 1.42 million PPE sets have been shipped to and distributed in the affected countries in support of WHO and partner activities.

Research and development

WHO has facilitated the review and consideration of numerous vaccines, drugs, therapies, and diagnostics for the treatment and detection of Ebola virus disease. Through an accelerated development process, there are now two candidate vaccines in Phase III clinical trials, with additional vaccines being developed by groups around the world.

Alternative therapies have been reviewed, and several have been identified as appropriate for administration in clinical trials. Blood and plasma from Ebola survivors are being given to Ebola patients and closely studied as a therapeutic intervention. Dozens of diagnostic tools are being evaluated, and those that meet pre-qualification requirements are approved for UN procurement.


WHO has been financially supported in its work by the generous contributions of:

African Development Bank Group, Andorra, Australia, Bhp Billiton Sustainable Communities, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, Croatia, DADCO Alumina and Chemicals LTD, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, European Commission-ECHO, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Oas African Investments Limited, OPEC Fund for International Development, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rio Tinto-Guinea, Shinnyo-en, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Societe Anglogold Ashanti De Guinee, Societe Des Mines De Fer De Guinee, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, UN CERF, UN OCHA, Ebola Multi Partner Trust Fund, One UN Fund in Malawi, Sudan Common Humanitarian Fund, United Kingdom, UN Development Programme, United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, United States, Vale International Holdings, Wellcome Trust, and World Bank.