The Lancet commentary piece was very interesting and I was glad to see it. I also wrote a piece on how IMF policies have hurt the Ebola countries' health systems in ForeignPolicy.com in late October, which may be of interest to you.
In his message below, Alex Kentikelenis offered a very good critique of the Chris Blattman Washington Post article that challenged the Lancet piece. You may also be interested to know that shortly after the Blattman article was published, another reply article was also published in the Washington Post: “5 things you should read before saying the IMF is blameless in the 2014 Ebola outbreak”.
Regarding the response to The Lancet piece by the IMF’s Sanjeev Gupta, please note that the IMF only talks about recurrent expenditures in their reply to these criticisms. But if you don't clearly distinguish between recurrent expenditure (what gets the most attention) and long-term capital expenditures - also called long-term public investment as a percent of GDP (which is rarely mentioned but arguably far more important for building the underlying health infrastructure over time), then its easy for the IMF to dodge and deflect the criticism and get off the hook. The IMF can just count on the readers being confused and not knowing the difference between these two types of expenditure, then point to a few recent years of relative increases in recurrent health expenditure in a few countries - and then claim their policies are therefore not hurting health spending. This is a huge problem that I've seen again and again over the years whenever critics raise this issue and the IMF replies.
The IMF must be made to answer for how its fiscal and monetary policies impacted on the long-term drop-off in public investment as a percent of GDP seen in many countries over many years – that’s the real issue (not recent levels of recurrent health spending).
Rick Rowden is the author of The Deadly Ideas of Neoliberalism: How the IMF has Undermined Public Health and the Fight against AIDS (Zed Books, 2009). He is currently a doctoral candidate in Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.