AID cuts for two of the world’s poorest countries could have contributed to the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, MPs warned yesterday.
They told a London summit on the outbreak that Con-Dem ministers had “compromised the fight” to save lives.
The critical report came as experts warned that the outbreak in West Africa has developed at an unprecedented scale.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Development Secretary Justine Greening and Ernest Bai Koroma, the president of Sierra Leone, are among those taking part in the global event at Lancaster House in central London.
Britain has pledged a further £20 million in aid to pay for vital medical supplies including chlorine, personal protection equipment and essential water and sanitation facilities.
The money will also be used to deploy clinicians, global health experts, epidemiologists and infection control advisers.
But the Commons international development committee said that while the move was welcome, significantly greater action was required to reverse a failure to prioritise Sierra Leone and Liberia.
In a damning report, the committee said that the crisis “demonstrates the dangers of ignoring the least developed countries in the world,” accusing ministers and aid agencies of switching focus to “higher-profile” places.
The report accused the Department for International Development (DfID) and the European Union of doing nothing to deal with the fact that tens of billions of pounds of EU-led health aid was not being passed on by Liberia’s finance ministry.
“Neither the EU nor DfID seemed to be doing anything to resolve the situation,” it said. “DfID has been working for the last five years on building up the Liberian health system and have spent £20 million doing so.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said Britain was “working urgently with Sierra Leone to scale up the international response to the disease.”
Jim Murphy MP, Labour’s Shadow International Development Secretary, said: “This extremely worrying report shows that ending this crisis and preventing the next one means learning the lessons of why and how this epidemic has grown out of control. It raises serious questions about DFID investment and some of its questionable allocation of funds.”