IMF Kills with Policies Responsible for Spread of Ebola

November 11, 2014

"To understand why several West African countries have been so ill-equipped to tackle the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus, look at the usual narrative of the IMF fiscal and monetary policy restraint. That's because it is a major reason for the dilapidated public health system that have proven to be such vulnerability during the crisis."

In his Oct. 30 Foreign Policy article, "West Africa's Financial Immune Deficiency" (quoted above); Rick Rowden nails the IMF decades-long policy as responsible for the out of control spread of the Ebola virus.

The article acknowledges that under investment in healthcare systems in poor countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia is the problem. He writes:

"Since the 1980s, the doctrine of Thatcher and Reagan reigned supreme, the IMF's monetarist approach which has meant prioritizing price stability (low inflation) and fiscal restraint (low budget deficits) over other spending goals in developing countries. These policies had the effect of greatly limiting the overall public spending each year — little was left over for scaling up the long term public investment in infrastructure."

The major defect of Rowden's otherwise useful article is that he mislabels the murderous policies of the IMF as shortcomings that need to be revised. Are these economic diktats shortcomings? When a set of policies produce the same result, over and over again, should we call them misguided or intentional?

It is well known that IMF structural adjustment programs and loan conditionalities not only affect developing countries' ability to build heath infrastructure. The obscene deficits in paved roads, rail transportation, electricity, and food production, are the result of these same policies, and have also contributed to the deadly spread of the Ebola virus.

In a conversation with this author, an official of a sub-Saharan nation described Ebola as the perfect disease for poor Africans, who are forced to exist in sub-human conditions with ten people living and sleeping in one room, where avoiding contact is impossible. Add to that a weakened immune system due to lack of adequate nutrition, lack of access to clean water, modern sanitation, and no health care system, and you have got the perfect storm for Ebola to rapidly spread out of control.

It is precisely these IMF polices, which have failed to demonstrate economic growth in any country, which are being challenged by the new paradigm of thinking by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) with the creation of a New Development Bank to finance vitally needed infrastructure projects. The ravaging of African nations and deaths of thousands of its citizens by the Ebola virus, should serve as a definitive marker of the destructive polices of the hegemonic globalist monetarist system that is stinkingly ripe to be replaced.