Ebola crisis: How to improve the integrity of responses to public health emergencies?

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat



Translations: FR


Transparency International called today on the government of Guinea, donor agencies and humanitarian agencies to be more transparent in their responses to public health emergencies to ensure fair, rapid and corruption-free humanitarian aid.

In a new report focusing on the Ebola crisis in Guinea, the global anti-corruption organisation found that supporting local healthcare capacities and investing in communication with affected communities would strengthen the response of aid providers and its integrity.

The report Collective Resolution to Enhance Accountability and Transparency in Emergencies: Guinea report, developed in partnership with Groupe URD, is based on in-depth interviews with affected communities and stakeholders to identify the corruption risks that affected the humanitarian response to Ebola in Guinea. The report makes recommendations on how to mitigate those risks in the future.

The study shows that most of the goods used in the response were too specialised to be resold and were thus less prone to misappropriation. The stigma attached to the disease also significantly reduced the theft of aid. The main risks identified concerned logistics (misuse of vehicles, fuel and generators) and construction (poor design and process in calls for tenders, weak oversight of building sites), as well as risks in human resources due to the large number of staff needed as the response was quickly scaled up.

Furthermore, the populations’ perception that there was an “Ebola business” – high level flow of funds into the country and significant increase of international aid staff predominantly based at expensive hotels in the capital – was a real hindrance to the response and a danger for staff due to hostile reactions by communities. Lack of understanding and errors of communication and behaviour created an environment of rumours and accusations as well as a lack of confidence that made the delivery and integrity of aid more vulnerable.

One of the main characteristics of the Ebola crisis was the significant involvement of scientific research bodies, private laboratories and pharmaceutical companies alongside the relief operations. Though there were obvious needs in terms of rapid diagnostic tools, drugs and vaccines, the practices of these organisations lacked transparency, and there was an obvious race to find the product that would be a source of significant financial reward, which raised questions in terms of ethics and integrity.

This crisis has brought new challenges in relation to aid integrity compared to classic humanitarian responses. As such, there needs to be a better understanding of the relationship between the type of crisis, the type of response and the context, and based on this solutions can be identified to protect the integrity of aid. In particular, Transparency International makes the following recommendations:

Humanitarian aid agencies should:

Donor agencies should:

The Government of Guinea should:


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