Via ReliefWeb, a report from Wilton Park: The 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak: lessons for response to a deliberate event. Excerpt:
The Ebola outbreak demonstrated a clear lack of preparedness from the global health and humanitarian system for an outbreak of infectious disease. The dialogue at Wilton Park built on an investigation conducted by the United States to determine how the response from the IOs and NGOs may change, or even cease, if an outbreak is determined to be intentional, or if the outbreak spread to a nonpermissive environment.
The study approached key stakeholders from relevant response organisations who were asked to describe how their organisations would have responded to a fictional scenario in which a non-state actor claims responsibility for new cases of Ebola in an adjacent geographical area with a previously unexposed population.
The study subsequently sought the views of major bilateral donors to the Ebola response to better understand the challenges and approaches nations would take in the event of a deliberate use and its impact on a humanitarian disaster response.
This dialogue aimed to bring together a selected group of multi-sector participants to glean what has been learned so far and develop firm proposals for action.
In association with: Global Affairs Canada, the UK Ministry of Defence, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the US State Department.
• The Ebola outbreak demonstrated a number of weaknesses in the international health and humanitarian response infrastructure. It is clear that a number of factors affect the nature of response and that any possible combination of these factors could occur. Permissiveness of environment affects NGO response, and a biological attack shifts response into including a military component. A natural outbreak could also be exacerbated by a nefarious actor acquiring biological samples that could be used deliberately against populations.
• Interoperability and coordination with the military is a key lesson to be learned. Military actors possess capacity that can be used, and are useful for providing surge and additional capacities in an emergency. Hence they have a significant role to play in both security and response. However, this role does also raise concerns, both from a military perspective (danger of mission-creep) and a response perspective (concerns over militarisation of response).