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UNICEF UNDERMINES PARLIAMENTARY POWER

…FRUSTRATES  FREE HEALTH CARE PROGRAMME

Few weeks back the issue about UNICEF usurping legitimate powers and responsibilities of certain key national institutions was widely debated to the extended that the debate attracted some community radio station’s discussions. An apologist from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, named Sidi Tunis whom it is alleged was giving Four Hundred Million Leones (Le400Million) by the out gone Minister of Health and Sanitation to use as an impress came into the defence of UNICEF with no substantial evidence to justify his defence. Mr. Sidi Tunis claimed that UNICEF had not been engaged in the procurement of drugs, payment of storage facility and clearance of Free Health Care drugs from the Queen Elizabeth 11. Unfortunately for Mr. Sidi Tunis, the Thursday edition of this medium came out with documentary evidence exposing UNICEF. It is not known whether he would continue to proffer defence on behalf of UNICEF, or take a back seat, but if he does he should be able to explained how the alleged Four Hundred Million Leones impress was utilized as this is not only a matter for the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), but a well appetizing food for the Anti Corruption Commission(ACC) if serous to investigate issues relating to donor funds.

UNICEF is an international nongovernmental organization, whose functions among others is to compliment government action and not to usurp the functions of some established national institutions. The UNICEF Representative,Mr.Roland Monacsh this medium has come to realize that the extent to which he has been meddling into the internal affairs of the Country’s health system has contributed in no small way to undermine the President’s Free Health Care Programme. As a result of his belated realization he was quoted to have muted in certain quarters that he was ready to relinquish all aspects relating to procurement, storage, clearing and forwarding of all materials involving the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. In addition, he was quoted to have said that he was going to employ the services of two experts from abroad to take over his role.

Whether Mr. Roland Monacsh intention is to provide jobs for his colleagues or not, it should now be made known to him that Sierra Leoneans need job and there are very competent Sierra Leoneans to handle the affairs and be paid the same way those two expatriates will be paid.

It would be recalled that Parliament seeing the conflicts in procurement related materials of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation decided to establish the NPPU by an Act of Parliament, an independent National Procurement entity with all powers vested in the establishment.

It was on July 19th July 2012 the National Pharmaceutical Procurement Unit (NPPU) was established by an Act of Parliament as an autonomous body charged with the responsibility of procuring, storing, distributing and managing drugs and medical supplies, for and on behalf of all public health facilities throughout Sierra Leone. Prior to the establishment of the NPPU then came the Free Health Care programme established in 2010. Government alongside Development Partners ‘contracted’ UNICEF to temporarily take up these tasks of NPPU until such a time when experts would have been contracted to set up the entity. A Team of well trained, qualified and well experienced International Staff hired by the UK based Crown Agents have been on the ground to work alongside with the Ministry of Health & Sanitation to help realized the dream of Parliament. It would seem UNICEF is reluctant to relinquish these responsibilities. What is behind the refusal is gradually coming to light. Sources say UNICEF has its own hired contractors that pay about eleven percent from all contractual assignment giving to them by the nongovernmental organization. Whether this is correct or not is for the Anti Corruption Commission to find out how these contractors were hired by UNICEF and whether or not they are paying the alleged eleven percent. Several questions continue to engage the critical minds as to whether UNICEF is using donor funds judiciously in support of the Free Health Care or helping to kill pregnant and lactating mothers and enriching its International employees?

Since April when NPPU should have fully taken over the responsibility after an initial one year of ‘under studying’ from UNICEF, has not been fully complied with, despite the fact that NPPU has manifested a lot of positives which UNICEF has not been able to achieve over the years since the inception of the Free Health Care Initiative. It is becoming glaring that UNICEF’s Roland Monacsh is trying to sabotage the good intention of Parliament and frustrate the dream of the President Health programme.

A recent analysis in the Procurement of drugs for the Free Health Care has revealed that NPPU with the aid of Crown Agent can purchase the same quantity of Drugs and Medicals for 2014 – 2015 and save over $3m, money that could be used for some other development projects to ensure the Government Agenda for Prosperity succeeds. NPPU Procures Drugs and Medical Equipment from manufacturers that meet WHO Standards and the importation of such drugs are being checked and regulated by the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone to ensure that standards are met, and complied with the laws of Sierra Leone. The NPPU can only bring Drugs and Medical Supplies to Sierra Leone that are useful and required for use by Sierra Leoneans and not use Sierra Leone as a dumping ground.

By the time of going to Press, sources revealed that UNICEF has brought in  three (3) Logisticians for supervising the off-loading and loading of trucks and bags home to Copenhagen for $15,000/month; money that can be used to pay the salaries of reasonable number of Sierra Leoneans employed by UNICEF for at least one year.(To be continued)

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