IMF Loans Lead to Higher Rates of Tuberculosis
From an interesting paper "International Monetary Fund Programs and Tuberculosis Outcomes in Post-Communist Countries":
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a major source of capital for resource-deprived countries, but it is unclear whether its economic reform programs have positive or negative effects on health and health infrastructures in recipient countries. There are indications, for example, that recipient countries sometimes reduce their public-health spending to meet the economic targets set by the IMF as conditions for its loans.
Our results show that IMF economic reform programs are strongly associated with rises in tuberculosis mortality rates in 21 post-communist Eastern European and Former Soviet Union countries, even after correcting for potential selection bias, tuberculosis surveillance infrastructure, levels of economic development, urbanization, and HIV/AIDS. We estimated an increase in tuberculosis mortality rates when countries participate in an IMF program, which was much greater than the reduction that would have been expected had the countries not participated in an IMF program (see chart above). On the other hand, we estimated a decrease in tuberculosis mortality rates associated with exiting an IMF program. For now, these results challenge the proposition that the forms of economic development promoted by the IMF necessarily improve public health.
Consistent with these results, IMF (but not non-IMF) programs were associated with reductions in government expenditures, tuberculosis program coverage, and the number of doctors per capita in each country.
Bottom Line: Maybe the IMF's bitter pill of strict fiscal responsibility is not just what the doctor ordered, from Slate.com.