Viewpoint: Experts should blame African governments not IMF for Ebola severity



Experts from three of UK’s leading universities who have faulted International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies for fuelling the spread of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa have their facts entirely wrong.

Through the study that they have released the experts referred to priorities of IMF loan conditions which stress debt repayments and building foreign exchange reserves over healthcare spending.

Reuters quotes one of the experts, Alexander Kentikelenis, a Cambridge University sociology professor and an author of the study published in the Lancet Global Health journal, as saying: “Policies advocated by the IMF have contributed to under-funded, insufficiently staffed, and poorly prepared health systems in the countries with Ebola outbreaks.”

However, what the study fails to acknowledge is that the governments of the worst-hit countries – Guinea, Sierra Leona and Liberia – have failed to prioritise sound investment in health. According to the World Bank statistics, their health expenditure averaged a paltry 6% between 2010 and2013, not a good commitment for countries whose populations are exposed to enormous health and sanitation challenges. And one can’t be certain that the money was even spent prudently.

The fact is that African governments have a notorious record of misappropriating funds meant for development projects. Yet they are always blaming western countries, for failing to intervene on time with assistance in times of crises. But what they overlook is that the buck stops with entirely themselves.

In general, African politicians have to learn to devout government funds towards providing good health, education and transport and communications. It is high time they stopped outsourcing management of basic services to foreign countries. As long as they are not accountable and transparent, crises will continue hitting them harder than other parts of the world.

Pitifully, as the world is inventing iphones, Africa is still lagging behind, failing to provide basic services like clean water to its taxpayers.

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