Emergency guidelines issued by the WHO for infectious disease outbreaks were of variable quality

Added August 6, 2020

Citation: Norris SL, Sawin VI, Ferri M, Sastre LR, Porgo TV. An evaluation of emergency guidelines issued by the World Health Organization in response to four infectious disease outbreaks. PloS one. 2018;13(5):e0198125.

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is a global emergency. Existing research on emergency guidelines for infectious disease outbreaks might provide useful information for policy makers.

In this review, the authors searched for information products produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) on four infectious disease emergencies: avian influenza A (H7N9), avian influenza A (H1N1), Middle Eastern Respiratory Distress Syndrome (MERS) and Ebola virus disease (EVD). They did not restrict their searches by language of publication and did the search on 24 April 2016. They included 175 information products, of which 87 were guidelines, covering H1N1 (54 products), H7N9 (28), MERS (23) and EVD (84).

What was found: Information products issued by WHO during outbreaks of H7N9 and H1N1 influenza, MERS and Ebola were difficult to find, inconsistent, often published at long intervals after outbreaks were graded, and demonstrated variable adherence to WHO publication and reporting requirements.

Few guidelines for responding to outbreaks of H7N9 and H1N1 influenza, MERS and Ebola met international standards for quality and consensus standards.


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