By ONE global health policy director Erin Hohlfelder and research assistant Anu Dathan.
When crises like the West African Ebola outbreak hit, the job of advocates is to hold leaders’ accountable for their pledges, ensuring that countries deliver the services needed on the ground to save lives – fast.
We’re campaigning right now for world leaders to make bold commitments and deliver them quickly – sign our petition.
So how are they doing? There are many good trackers monitoring various financial pieces of the Ebola response, including those from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN, and the World Bank. But to get the full picture we need to understand the story behind the figures: Which countries have really committed ambitious amounts? How much money is additional to existing commitments for health and development? How many are filling the most urgent needs by providing materials and specialist health care workers?
Here, we set out the latest on what key countries have promised—our best attempt at outlining which countries have committed most to Ebola across three categories: financing, health care personnel, and in-kind contributions.
What are we looking for?
We are pushing governments to make sure pledges are:
- time-bound, to keep the response urgent, moving, and delivery-focused;
- additional, to ensure governments are committing genuinely new resources to the fight, protecting funds for other development priorities and not reassigning existing funds flowing to affected countries; and
- transparent, to enable citizens and civil society groups to track pledges and hold leaders accountable
Our work draws on data from some of the trackers mentioned above, but differs from existing analyses in also using press releases, information from government representatives, conversations with technical bodies and other research.
What have we found?
Major gaps in data on pledges exist. No donors have attached clear timelines to their contributions, and many have not fully clarified whether these constitute emergency efforts for Ebola or whether this is reassigned aid. In France’s case, for instance, we know based on where money is coming from that at least half of the country’s commitment is not additional to its existing health promises. As our colleagues at the Center for Global Development have also pointed out, some donors have been quite vague about where, or through which channels, their resources are going—another challenge if we hope to meaningfully track those commitments.
Assessing donors should be done across all three categories. This is most clearly illustrated in the case of the US. Based on financial commitments alone, the US appears to have given relatively far less than its peers as a share of its national income. In reality, of course, American military and other in-kind contributions valued at nearly $1 billion, in addition to conventional financial commitments, mean the US has been leading the response. A holistic view—while still to some degree inevitably ‘apples to oranges’—allows us to make different kinds of judgments.
Completing this data is not some dry accounting exercise. If we don’t know what’s really promised, and if it is not adequately coordinated, no one can adequately match the supply of resources to needs on the ground. That means responses cannot be properly resourced, gaps in supply cannot be easily identified, and time lags will result in more lives lost.
Please work with us to improve the picture.
These tables are incomplete and a work in progress. They do not yet cover all countries that have made commitments to the Ebola crisis, and even for the current set of countries, this information may not fully reflect all commitments. These tables also do not call out explicit laggards—countries such as Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the UAE who at present, and shamefully, appear not to have contributed any governmental resources towards Ebola.
To improve upon these tables, we welcome information, detail and feedback from donors—and also from and partners and citizens; if you would like to clarify anything included here, please email Erin or Anu directly. We also pledge to keep these tables time-stamped and updated with the latest information. In the weeks to come, we also hope to have tools that are more interactive for public use.
As Ebola cases continue to rise exponentially, no one should feel off the hook. Fighting Ebola is a race against time: the sooner we have quality information, the sooner response teams and donors can deliver what is really needed to beat the clock and contain this disease.