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IMF Policies Blamed for Rapid Ebola Spread in West Africa

teleSUR | December 23, 2014

Strict public spending cuts imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone may have contributed to the rapid spread of Ebola in these countries, according to Cambridge University researchers.

“A major reason why the Ebola outbreak spread so rapidly was the weakness of healthcare systems in the region,” said Cambridge sociologist Alexander Kentikelenis, lead author of the study that appeared in the latest issue of medical journal The Lancet.

“Policies advocated by the IMF have contributed to underfunded, insufficiently staffed and poorly prepared health systems in the countries with Ebola outbreaks,” added Kentikelenis.

The first cases of the deadly virus were discovered in Guinea earlier this year, but quickly spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. The three countries have been the worst affected by the epidemic, both in terms of lives lost and the damages to their already fragile economies.

According to the researchers, all three countries have been receiving aid from the IMF since the 1990s. However, the lending came with what the IMF calls “conditionalities” that required all three governments “to adopt policies that favor short-term economic objectives over investment in health and education,” reads the report.

Kentikelenis told the BBC that IMF imposed government spending cuts and caps on wages meant countries could not hire health staff and pay them adequately. He also added that the IMF emphasizes and supports decentralized health care systems, which made it harder to mobilize a coordinated response to the virus outbreak.

The IMF denied all accusations in a press release, and called them “factual inaccuracies.”

As of Dec. 21, at least 7,580 people have died from Ebola in six countries: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the United States and Mali, making it the worse outbreak of the virus since it was first identified in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

December 25, 2014 - Posted by | Economics | , ,

2 Comments »

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  2. Reblogged this on Resistance Is Fertile.

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    Comment by Oso Sabio | December 25, 2014 | Reply


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