The World Health Organization, or WHO, was slow in asking for cash to help Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea fight the epidemic, Karen Grépin, assistant professor of global health policy at New York University, said in her report. And even though countries, charities and private donors rushed to donate, the money is moving at a snail’s pace.
Of nearly $3 billion pledged, just $1 billion has been paid out, Grépin found. “The international response has been called both too small and too slow, and this may have contributed to the ongoing spread of the disease.” “The problem has not been the generosity of donors but that the resources have not been deployed rapidly enough,” Grépin said. “The international response has been called both too small and too slow, and this may have contributed to the ongoing spread of the disease,” Grépin writes in her report, published in the British Medical Journal.
Ebola’s infected more than 22,000 people and killed nearly 9,000 of them. It’s wrecked the already teetering economies of the three worst-hit countries, closed schools and threatened the harvest. Guinea’s Ministry of Health notified WHO that it had a “rapidly evolving outbreak” of Ebola virus disease in March, and within a week, WHO sent some protective equipment and other medical supplies to Guinea.
But it wasn’t until August that WHO and the presidents of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea asked for international aid – and they asked for only $71 million. By November, it was up to $1.5 billion. Donors have been way more generous than that, said Grépin, who used a U.N. database for her research. “As of 31 December 2014, donors had pledged a total of $2.89 billion to support the international response to the Ebola outbreak; however, only $1.09 billion has actually been paid,” Grépin wrote.