Thursday 23 November 2017

Sierra Leone fails to properly account for €5m in Ebola funds

A home in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, is quarantined in an effort to combat the spread of the Ebola virus (AP)
A home in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, is quarantined in an effort to combat the spread of the Ebola virus (AP)

Independent News Desk

Nearly a third of the €17.5 million Sierra Leone set aside for fighting Ebola last year can not be accounted for.

A report by its national auditor found no supporting documents to substantiate how the government spent some €5 million earmarked to combat the country's hemorrhagic fever outbreak last May.

The funds, which came from tax revenues and local donations, were designed to be used to buy personal protective equipment, medical supplies, consumables and cover bonus payments to healthcare workers.

"Monies that have been set aside for the purpose of combating the Ebola outbreak may have been used for unintended purposes, thereby slowing the government's response to eradicate the virus," the country's Auditor General said.

"There continue to be lapses in the financial management system in Sierra Leone and these have ultimately resulted in the loss of funds and a reduction in the quality of service delivery in the health sector."

The report found that more than 14 billion leones (€2.9 million) from the government's emergency health response account had disappeared without a trace.

While a further 11 billion leones (€2.2 million) from the same account was missing receipts and invoices.

The report did not consider funds channelled through U.N. agencies or international non-governmental organisations.

Earlier this week, Sierra Leone said it had cleaned up a list thought to contain thousands of "ghostworkers" on its Ebola staff and would prosecute those who sought to swindle money from the government.

More than 10,000 Ebola cases were reported in Sierra Leone, making it the hardest hit country in what is the worst recorded outbreak of the disease.

Reuters

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