Millions of Ebola Relief Funds Misappropriated in Sierra Leone

Fredrick Ngugi January 24, 2017
Health workers in Sierra Leone place a man suspected to have died from Ebola in a body bag. CNN

Investigations have revealed that millions of dollars set aside to facilitate the fight against the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone have been misappropriated.

The internal audit report says that at least $14 million allocated for fighting Ebola in 2014 could not be accounted for, even as the survivors of the deadly epidemic continue to wallow in poverty, unable to pick up the pieces, reports the BBC.

The stolen cash includes millions of high-risk health hazard allowances for medical workers who risked their lives to offer services to victims of the disease. Investigations revealed that the allowances, amounting to $4 million, were never paid.

“I was signing for 2 million leone [$360] a month, but I only received 1.5 million leone,” Andrew Bockarie, a hygienist and former volunteer, says.

Mass Protests

In 2014, health volunteers participating in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone, staging mass protests at Kenema Hospital over delayed payments.

Those in charge of disposing bodies of the deceased brought corpses from the morgue and dumped them at the hospital’s entrance, demanding unpaid allowances.

Bockarie, who took part in the protests, says he didn’t receive any allowances for eight months, which totals to 4 million leone.

Sierra Leone’s Auditor General, Madam Lara Taylor-Pearce, recently revealed that some of the misappropriated money is still missing two years down the line and nothing has been done to bring the culprits to justice. In fact, only a handful of civil servants have so far been suspended.

She further admitted that there was no accountability in the procurement of ambulances and other medical supplies, adding that most of the ambulances paid for were never supplied.

“I am not aware that anything was done about the misprocurement,” the auditor general said.

Ebola Virus Epidemic

In 2014, Sierra Leone and neighboring countries Guinea and Liberia were hit by the deadly Ebola virus, a mysterious hemorrhagic fever that spreads like wild fire, which left thousands of people dead.

The virus is said to have originated from a child in Guinea who consumed an infected bat in 2013.

Initially, it was thought that Ebola was not endemic in Sierra Leone, but medical research revealed that the virus had been in the country since 2006.

Although Sierra Leone has since managed to contain the spread of Ebola, the virus has so far killed nearly 4,000 people in the country.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: January 24, 2017


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