Sophie Harman- Associate professor ininternational relationsQueen Mary University of London, Great Britain


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Money spent on health systems of partner countries in the context of international co-operation runs into the billions. Why have the health systems nevertheless failed so miserably in the case of Ebola?

In the wake of nearly every major disaster, a fundraising campaign springs up to provide relief for the affected. And in the wake of nearly every major fundraising campaign, people question, where did the money go? The West African Ebola outbreak is no exception. Over the last year, aid from some of the world’s wealthiest donors has poured into the poor, hard-hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. But people should be asking another question – what money was offered to these countries before, not after, the outbreak? And with those dollars, might this epidemic have been prevented in the first place?

Between 2002 and 2013, developed countries and international institutions like the United Nations and the World Health Organization gave over 1.7 billion US dollars in aid to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. While it’s nearly impossible to trace exactly how that money was spent, we don’t necessarily need to go to those lengths.

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