Almost $2.9 billion was pledged by the end of 2014 in donations to fight West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, yet only around 40 percent had actually reached affected countries, researchers said on Tuesday.
A study by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that tracked international donations showed barely $1.09 billion had reached the worst affected countries by the end of last year, they said.
“These delays … may have contributed to spread of the virus and could have increased the financial needs,” said Karen Grepin, a global health policy expert at New York University who led the study and published it in the BMJ British medical journal.
The West Africa Ebola epidemic, the worst in history, has killed more than 8,800 people since it began more than a year ago, decimating already weak health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Its spread now appears to be slowing, especially in Liberia which now has just five cases.
Grepin analysed the level and speed of pledges made to fight Ebola and how they aligned with estimates of funds required to control the epidemic.
She found not only that more than half of funds pledged by international donors had not reached the target countries, but also that global agencies had failed to reliably estimate the amount of money needed.