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International Monetary Fund criticised over Ebola policies

Credit: Reuters

Policies advocated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have contributed to under-funded, insufficiently staffed and poorly prepared health systems in the countries with Ebola outbreaks in west Africa, academics have said.

Researchers from Cambridge University's department of sociology, joined by colleagues from Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, examined links between the IMF and the rapid spread of the disease.

They said IMF programmes over the years have imposed heavy constraints on the development of effective health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - the cradle of the Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 6,800 since March this year.

Economic policy reforms advocated by the IMF have undermined the capacity of health systems in these three nations - systems already fragile from legacies of conflict and state failure - to cope with infectious disease outbreaks and other such emergencies, they added.

Lead author and Cambridge sociologist Alexander Kentikelenis:

A major reason why the Ebola outbreak spread so rapidly was the weakness of healthcare systems in the region, and it would be unfortunate if underlying causes were overlooked. Policies advocated by the IMF have contributed to under-funded, insufficiently staffed, and poorly prepared health systems in the countries with Ebola outbreaks.

– Alexander Kentikelenis