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Jamie Rundle (The University of Sheffield, Management School)
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11 pages
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This is part of a case series. In West Africa during the spring and summer of 2014, in the weeks following the largest Ebola outbreak since the disease was discovered in 1976, medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) battled to respond to the escalating crisis sweeping through the region. MSF faced accusations of alarmism after publicising the disaster, yet it was more than five months after the outbreak was declared by the Guinean Health Ministry before the organisation received support from the World Health Organisation, which finally recognised and acknowledged the scale of the disaster. By the end of August 2014, 3,685 cases of Ebola had been reported and 1841 people were already dead. In September 2014, after more than six dangerous and deadly months of tirelessly battling to contain the spread of the virus, MSF's International President, Dr Joanne Liu, addressed the United Nations in New York City in an anxious plea to attract much-needed and long-overdue attention and assistance from United Nations (UN) member states to finally halt the epidemic. It would take another eighteen months to contain the outbreak. The final toll reported that 28,616 people had been affected and 11,310 lives had been lost. The outbreak was a defining moment in MSF's history, forcing the organisation to re-assert its position within the humanitarian sector, examine its own operations and, critically, hold other governmental and non-governmental organisations to account.

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for undergraduate and postgraduate courses.


Humanitarian aid; Disaster relief; Non-government organisation (NGO); Ebola; Public health; Leadership; Logistics & supply chain; Accountability


The events covered by this item took place in 2014.

Geographical setting

Sierra Leone; Guinea; Liberia

Featured company

Company name:
Medecins Sans Frontieres
EUR 1.6 billion
Medical humanitarianism
Other keywords:
Medical; Humanitarian; Disaster relief; NGO; International

Featured protagonist

  • Dr Joanne Liu (female), International President, MSF

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