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LONDON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - The World Health Organization's emergency response capabilities are "lacking" and will put thousands of lives at risk if they are not reformed now, a high-level United Nations panel convened in the wake of the Ebola crisis said.
"This may be last opportunity to ensure the WHO is empowered" to build an effective emergency response capacity, warned an advance unedited copy of the UN panel's report, made available online over the weekend in a link on the UN's daily Journal website.
"The high risk of major health crises is widely underestimated and ... the world's preparedness and capacity to respond is woefully insufficient," the report said. "If the WHO does not successfully reform, the next major pandemic will cause thousands of otherwise preventable deaths." (Reporting by Kate Kelland; editing by Ben Hirschler and Katharine Houreld)