Every year Muslim pilgrims from all over the planet gather in Mecca. This pilgrimage is one of Islam’s five pillars and is call Hajj. If somebody has Ebola in Mecca, the pilgrims would spread it world wide when they return to their countries. Warning against Ebola would maybe result in a ban on Hajj, and Muslims would no longer be able to fulfil their religious duty to visit Mecca at least once in their life. So the World Health Organisation kept the risk of Ebola secret. WHO is a UN organisation.
“By early June of last year, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was the deadliest ever recorded. There weren’t enough beds for patients and many were refusing to seek treatment, driving the outbreak underground.
Senior staffers in Africa at the World Health Organization raised the prospect of declaring an international emergency. The answer from WHO’s Geneva headquarters: Wait.
According to internal emails and documents obtained by The Associated Press, the U.N. health agency resisted sounding the international alarm until August, a two-month delay that some argue may have cost lives. More than 10,000 are believed to have been killed by the virus since WHO announced the outbreak a year ago.
WHO has acknowledged acting too slowly to control the Ebola epidemic. In its defense, the agency says the virus’ spread was unprecedented and blames factors including lack of resources and intelligence from the field. Internal documents obtained by AP, however, show WHO’s top leaders were informed of how dire the situation was. But they held off on declaring an emergency in part because it could have angered the countries involved, interfered with their mining interests or restricted the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in October.“
More on this story from Washington Post here.