IMF POLICIES AND AFRICAN HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

Ebola outbreak is a major health crisis which threatens most of the countries in the world at present. Thousands of people have already died, both medical practitioners and ordinary citizens, because of the Ebola virus. As of today, there are still plenty of discussions as to who or what should be blamed for the worsening of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, but people believe different things. As a result, up to this day, the public still has not reached any definite conclusion yet.

While it is true that the Ebola epidemic is political in nature, it would also be safe to conclude that it also poses a lot of economic threats for the countries affected by Ebola and those areas around it. As the death toll increases in West Africa, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea continuously face great revenue shortfalls and other financial difficulties.

According to the analysis of several researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the worsening of the Ebola outbreak can be attributed partly to the shortcomings of the International Monetary Fund policies and programmes that have caused the financial immune deficiency of West Africa.

It has been found by the UK-based researchers that the rapid outbreak of Ebola is directly rooted from the policies of International Monetary Fund that have left healthcare facilities and systems in Africa underfunded. Because of this, health systems have not been able to cope with the Ebola outbreak effectively, resulting to the death of thousands of Ebola-stricken individuals.

The researchers claimed that the policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund have made it difficult to employ healthcare workers in West Africa. The study had mentioned that Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea were not able to employ doctors and pay them sufficiently, while the decentralised health systems made it almost impossible to put into action coordinated responses to the outbreak of the infectious disease. They also explained that the required economic reforms pressed by the Monetary Fund weakened the healthcare systems in the said three countries. As a response, IMF’s spokesman claimed otherwise by saying that it was all just a misunderstanding. He said that the mandate of International Monetary Fund did not encapsulate public health; therefore, it is not true that IMF policies have a link to the major health crisis in Africa. He further explained that the International Monetary Fund had provided $130 million dollars worth of financial assistance to the areas affected by the outbreak, and that IMF will give the same amount to the three areas in West Africa heavily affected by Ebola next year.

Rest assured, none of this is to say that the International Monetary Fund is wholly responsible for the outbreak. Various factors also need to be taken into account in examining the causes of the worsening of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa; but although the political and socioeconomic aspects are to be paid much needed attention to in examining this issue, the international community also have to recognize the need for the revision of the IMF fiscal and its monetary policies.

 

Source:

AFP. (2014). IMF Policies blamed for weak Ebola response.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/ebola/11307252/IMF-policies-blamed-for-weak-Ebola-response.html