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Harry Cassin
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Ebola tragedy is also a story of graft

The current Ebola outbreak has now infected at least 1,975 people and claimed more than 1,000 lives, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare an International Public Health Emergency.

The worst hit countries in the outbreak are Guinea with 510 cases and 377 deaths, Sierra Leone with 785 cases and 334 deaths, Liberia with 670 cases and 305 deaths, and Nigeria with 12 cases and 3 deaths.

One reason the fatality rate is so high — up to 90% in some regions, according to WHO — is because intensive care facilities are needed to administer treatments but are “rare in west Africa.”

Although an estimated $3 trillion is spent worldwide on heath services every year, WHO said the money “is a powerful magnet for corruption.”

“In fact experts estimate that 10 – 25% of global spending on public procurement of medicines is lost to corruption,” WHO said.

The countries worst hit by this Ebola outbreak have an average rank on the Corruption Perceptions Index of 124.

The CPI measures the perceived graft of 177 countries and territories.

Guinea ranks 150, Sierra Leone is 119, Liberia is 83, and Nigeria is 144.

WHO said of the graft: “Millions of people — in some of the poorest countries — are being robbed of their health as life-saving resources for essential medicines and for the recruitment of medical professionals are siphoned off.”


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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  1. This article is reaching at the very best and the substance or facts presented in the body do not correlate in any way to the blog title other than to garner clicks – very disappointing to see such a hastily pulled together post on an otherwise great FCPA resource.

    How exactly is the current Ebola virus outbreak the story of graft? Is this on the basis of “estimated $3 trillion is spent worldwide on health services every year" or by extension, "…10 – 25% of global spending on public procurement of medicines is lost to corruption"?

    I can see the extrapolation that if these 3 or 4 countries rank pretty low on the CPI index, these must be very corrupt countries generally. However, I fail to see how this directly impacts or reflects the outbreak or the response to the Ebola Virus. Please explain what % of the $3 trillion spent on health services globally comes from the countries mentioned?

    This would have been a stronger article if you had demonstrated how much each country mentioned had earmarked for its health sector this year and how it is despite this, somehow unable to respond effectively to this unforeseen outbreak.

    It may interest you to hear what the Lagos state Governor (in Nigeria, where the index case from Liberia was recorded) has to say regarding the necessity or otherwise of funds in fighting the outbreak in Lagos –
    Sometimes you have to go behind and beyond the headlines.

  2. This article is disappointing and misleading.

    I see no information in the article to support the notion that the Ebola virus is the story of graft. The Ebola tragedy is not a story of graft but of a fatality rate of up to 90%.

  3. Generally I like reading the FCPA Blog. But I agree with the comment that this post seems not to be as factually based as others. If there is any message about corruption which we can draw from the Ebola epidemic it is this: corruption is a public health risk factor. Corrupt practices in the health sector reduce the resources we have to respond to epidemics like Ebola. It also weakens public trust in government health systems, trust which we need to rely on in emergency situations. Anti-corruption strategies can strengthen public health systems and response networks so they are there when we need them.

  4. I agree with Judith A. The heading confidently implies causation (which drew me to read), but the article is about coincidence.

  5. I agree with Trung Doan, however there may be a link between Ebola and the countries which are high on the index like the USA and Canada. First you hear there is no medicine and no vaccine and now both countries have a medicine and a vaccine, which they can try out on African people. How compliance are these companies and their countries? Which system of ethics they use or is there religion only money?

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