Ebola accountability report: An unprecedented year

A report illustrating how MSF spent its money during the Ebola outbreak for the 2014 - 2015 period.

On 22 March 2014, an Ebola epidemic was officially declared in Guinea. Over the course of the next year, the virus would infect more than 25,000 people in nine countries and claim more than 10,000 lives, dwarfing all previous Ebola outbreaks. For comparison, the biggest previous outbreak had a total of 425 cases.

The reasons this epidemic escalated so dramatically are varied, and still debated, but some facts are clear. Even very early on, Ebola cases were spread over a wide geographic area. Initial cases were recorded around Guéckédou, but within 10 days of the outbreak being declared cases had been confirmed in Liberia, and hundreds of kilometres away in Conakry, Guinea’s capital. On 31 March, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) declared that the outbreak was “unprecedented” in terms of its geographic spread.

Previous outbreaks had mostly occurred in remote rural communities, where they could more easily be contained. This time Ebola quickly appeared in densely populated cities such as Conakry. The virus also emerged at the junction of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; an area where people regularly travel across the country borders.