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Uneducated citizenry is like a pitch any game can be played on it. Illiteracy is what has given the politicians in Ghana the chance to fool so many people for so a long a time.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ebola, the IMF, and the World Bank: Unlimited Privatisation of Healthcare and the legacy of three decades of neoliberal economic restructuring.

The World Bank and the IMF have added their voice to the Ebola crisis that is currently ravaging through West Africa and which is threatening Europe and the United States. According to the World Bank, Africa faces serious threat from the disease while the its president admits: 'The response is slow and we all know that'. However, I find the IMF and the World Bank's comments to be very hypocritical. For decades the two institutions have been at the forefront of the fight to get African governments to stop investing in healthcare infrastructure, training of doctors, nurses and other frontline staff. They have also been encouraging African governments to freeze employment of health workers as well as salaries of those already employed. It is therefore no surprising that African countries are struggling to cope with the Ebola outbreak. Years of neglect of the health sector courtesy of IMF and the Bank has produced a healthcare system capable of doing almost nothing. This explains why the African countries badly hit by the Ebola virus are struggling to provide healthcare for the affected population. It also explains why the health systems in these countries are struggling to contain the spread of the epidemic. For 6 months West African nations particularly Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been battling to contain the deadly virus while the West and their economic and financial agents i.e. the IMF and the Bank look on unconcerned. More than 3700 people have so far died with Liberia alone recording more than 2100 deaths. In Ghana, which is considered the most successful IMF/World Bank adjustment story in Africa, cholera outbreak in August/September killed more than one hundred while thousands have been affected raising fears that the nation will find it difficult to cope should the Ebola virus raises its ugly head in the country. Health workers, hospitals, polyclinics, and clinics have struggled to provide adequate healthcare. All this happened because the World Bank and the IMF have been insisting on cash and carry system, where patients, irrespective of economic and social status, must pay upfront before they are treated. Meanwhile investment in the health sector has not kept up with needs and demand due to pressure from the Britton Wood instructions. Rather than insisting that African countries reduce investment in critical systems such as healthcare, he World Bank and the IMF should do the opposite.

L. A. Adusei
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