January 2018 Volume 42, Issue 1 Pages 1–203
Political drivers of epidemic response: foreign healthcare workers and the 2014 Ebola outbreak (pages 41–61)
Daniel Nohrstedt and Erik Baekkeskov
Version of Record online: 25 APR 2017 | DOI: 10.1111/disa.12238
This study demonstrates that countries responded quite differently to calls for healthcare workers (HCWs) during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014. Using a new dataset on the scale and timing of national pledges and the deployment of HCWs to states experiencing outbreaks of the virus disease (principally, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone), it shows that few foreign nations deployed HCWs early, some made pledges but then fulfilled them slowly, and most sent no HCWs at all. To aid understanding of such national responses, the paper reviews five theoretical perspectives that offer potentially competing or complementary explanations of foreign government medical assistance for international public health emergencies. The study systematically validates that countries varied greatly in whether and when they addressed HCW deployment needs during the Ebola crisis of 2014, and offers suggestions for a theory-driven inquiry to elucidate the logics of foreign interventions in critical infectious disease epidemics.