Health Minister wants World Bank Ebola money probe

May 14, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi

PROBER … Health Minister, Dr. Abubakarr Fofanah

PROBER … Health Minister, Dr. Abubakarr Fofanah

The Minister of Health and Sanitation has disclosed that his ministry and the government of Sierra Leone are gravely concerned about the management of Ebola funds by non-governmental organisations, noting that Audit Service Sierra Leone had written an official letter to the World Bank for an explanation as to the management of Ebola funds which were directly under the supervision of the Bank and other agencies.

“I have a letter which was written to World Bank by Audit Service Sierra Leone as to the use of Ebola money by some UN agencies. Sierra Leone got 98m dollars to fight Ebola but most of the money was given to World Food Programme, UNICEF and other UN organizations to fight Ebola. We do not know how these agencies expended the money,” said Dr. Abubakarr Fofanah.

He raised the concern Tuesday May 12 at the conference hall of his ministry in Freetown, insisting that they were keen to know if the World Bank effectively or inefficiently disbursed the sum of US$98 million to UN agencies who were directly involved in the implementation of various Ebola eradication projects.

It could be recalled that the Ministry of Health was blamed for various procurement irregularities by a special real time Ebola Audit Report this February, which indicated that huge sums of money were badly disbursed or expended by individuals and organizations in breach of public procurement rules.

A parliamentary report into the scandalous report is yet to be released, almost two months after the investigations were completed.

Dr. Fofanah said though government appreciates the collective role of the donor community in the fight against the virus, it was imperative to know which organization collected how much and how they carried out their activities, especially as the moneys were given in the name of the government and people of Sierra Leone.

He said: “The Bank, after promising the African Union that they will take responsibility of AU personnel in the fight, yet they are now asking us as government to pay the workers. I have told them that they should write a letter to the government as to why we should pay the money because as a government we believe in transparency and accountability.”

There has been no official reaction yet by the World Bank, and efforts to reach them proved abortive.