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WHO should be able to impose sanctions on states that ban travel to countries with epidemics, panel says

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h2762 (Published 22 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2762
  1. Anne Gulland
  1. 1London

The World Health Organization should have greater power to stop countries imposing trade and travel barriers on regions affected by outbreaks of infectious disease, the chair of a panel looking into WHO’s handling of the Ebola outbreak has said.

Barbara Stocking, chair of the Ebola interim assessment panel, told the World Health Assembly in Geneva that WHO should have increased powers to act in emergencies, saying that it should have more powers such as imposing sanctions on countries that try to cut off trade and travel with states affected by infectious disease outbreaks, such as Ebola virus disease.

Stocking, a former chief executive of the UK charity Oxfam, said that there were serious disincentives to countries declaring an outbreak and that those that did declare early should be compensated. “Our concern is to ensure that there …

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