IMF blamed for Ebola spread in West Africa

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been blamed for the rapid spread of the Ebola virus in three West African countries.

According to UK-based researchers, the IMF’s imposition of spending cuts on the affected countries led to “under-funded, insufficiently staffed and poorly prepared health systems” in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

The BBC reports that the IMF has denied the allegation.

An IMF spokesperson is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying, “such claims are based on a misunderstanding, and, in some cases, a misrepresentation, of IMF policies.”

A Cambridge University sociologist and lead study author, Alexander Kentikelenis is quoted by the BBC as saying, “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.”

The study described the IMF policies which required drastic reduction of government spending as “extremely strict, absorbing funds that could be directed to meet pressing health challenges.”

But a co-author of the study, Lawrence King has discounted the claims saying, the three Ebola-stricken nations met the IMF’s directives in 2013, just before the Ebola outbreak.

The Ebola virus since its outbreak in March 2014 has claimed about 7,000 lives.

The affected countries, especially Sierra Leone, are struggling to contain the disease.

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