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WHO Acting Director runs to Morocco

By Mohamed Konneh
Anders Nordstrom, WHO country representative to Sierra Leone will heading for Marrakech in Morocco this week after coming under the spotlight on corruption allegations and mistreatment of local staff at the UN agency.
In a leaked email address to staff members across the Country the UN Representative informed them that during the week, “some of you may have been aware of hand bills that were distributed along the streets of Freetown as well as media publications with misleading information aimed at me with the intent to defame my character and the good image of the Organization. I want to let you know that all that was said in both hand bills and newspapers is not correct but my communication to you today is not the forum to go into further detail”.
Trying to unsuccessfully divert their intention, but the UN Representative to Sierra Leone looked defeated and showed some level of remorse which was not appreciated. He talked about plans to restructure the transport system and the whooping sum that the agency is spending on hired vehicles and the discontentment he observed among members of staff
“Meanwhile, my attention has been brought to some silent discontentment among staff in the office with regards to management and administrative issues. I take this very seriously” And he added. “As I have stated in my previous communications to you, my vision is to manage this office with an open door policy. I am encouraging everyone to be open and put forward issues affecting them directly to me but also through the staff Association” “We are a team” He said in a very compromising tone, but never revealed the truthfulness about the allegations levied against and the accusation of being corrupt. It is no secret that the present head of the agency is one of the most corrupt individuals put in charge of the Country’s foreign agency. Many diplomats aufait with the past record of Anders are beginning to raise serious concerns as what would be the fate of the agency now that this individual who is suffering from the disease known as kleptomaniac is at the apex of administrative power. He claimed that what affects the ordinary staff member affects others, but how true is that? “What affects one staff member has an equal effect on all of us. Let us therefore discuss issues affecting us and let us find ways and means to solve our challenges together as a team” He said.
His dismissal of the various publications is psychologically telling on him, but has pretended not to. He was quick to point out that there is a growing problem among members of staff mainly discontentment.
The aspect of discontentment among local staff is just one, what is more disturbing is the aspect of funds the UN agency received un-behalf of the people of Sierra Leone for the fight against the Ebola outbreak that devastated the country for almost eighteen months, which he has not been able to give a proper account of all throughout the period
“WHO needs to tell the people of this country how much they received and how much was dispensed thereby giving a clear picture as to how they dispensed the funds received” A local staff remarked.
Anders is expected to be away for the next six months and will spend most his time in Morocco, Barcelona and Spain.
Another serious concern among staff is the delay in receiving their salary something Ander agreed to in his email to staff, but was quick to say that the processing is in progress and very soon they would receive their salaries for the month of January. Up to last week, staffs are yet to receive their pay for the month of January 2016.
“Some of you have expressed concerns about delays in receiving your salaries for the month of January as well as the status of your contracts. Firstly, I should apologize for the salary delay which was due to administrative challenges that have now been resolved and your salaries are being processed and should be paid within a week. In relation to the contracts, we are working to ensure that we regularize consultants and SSA’s contracts to staff contracts when that would have to be decided. The process has already commenced as some of you are aware and will be completed in the next few weeks.
It is still not clear how Anders ended up been the Country representative after he was disgracefully removed from the position of Acting Director General.(See email of Anders)

“Dear colleagues across the country and WHO office,
We are now at the beginning of a new biennium and so I would like to share some thoughts and information with you.
We ended 2015 on a good note with the end of a devastating Ebola outbreak on November 7th. Unfortunately the year started with a flare up of the disease, an event that undoubtedly put a lot of stress on the country and on all of us. To some members of the public this came as a surprise, but we all know that recurrence of the disease is a possibility that we always have to be prepared for and to respond to as promptly and as effectively as possible with all our available resources and technical expertise.
The impact of the prompt response to this latest flare-up underscores the importance of strong collaboration among partners in supporting the national authorities to achieve a common goal. We saw that under the strong leadership of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) and ONS and through the inter-agency collaboration, this event was promptly contained very effectively with only one secondary case. It also illustrates the capacity now in place in this country to manage such emergencies should Ebola or any other public health emergency resurface in the future.
Our role in the response in supporting case investigation, contact tracing, laboratory services, vaccination, community engagement, and IPC has been commended by many. And I want to thank all of you for the gains and team work. I was very pleased with the inter-agency as well as inter-district collaboration among our teams during the flare up. Whilst we have spent considerable time and resources on Ebola, the priorities of the government are now more focused on recovery and strengthening the delivery of basic and routine health services. In addition, the President has indicated two clear priorities for the country and health: A resilient zero and a drastic reduction in child and maternal mortality. These are two important priorities that we have and will continue to support the government to achieve.
The initial required funds to support our new biannual work plan have been secured but we will continue to mobilize additional resources to enhance implementation of our activities in line with the set priorities of the MoHS. Our work with the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) will continue to ensure we make good impact on health outcomes in every part of the country.
Some of you have expressed concerns about delays in receiving your salaries for the month of January as well as the status of your contracts. Firstly, I should apologize for the salary delay which was due to administrative challenges that have now been resolved and your salaries are being processed and should be paid within a week. In relation to the contracts, we are working to ensure that we regularize consultants and SSA contracts to staff contracts when so have been decided. This process has already commenced as some of you are aware and will be completed in the next few weeks.
We are aware of the general transportation challenges in Freetown and as such the office is providing bus shuttle services for all staff through a route or line system. Due to the large number of staff members and considering the fact that we are all coming from different parts of the city, it is practically impossible to collect everyone from their homes. As such we have moved from the pick-up and drop off at our respective homes to the bus shuttle services. I am aware that the changes might have caused some inconveniences but I am strongly appealing to everyone to try to adjust to the new transport arrangement.
For colleagues in the districts, we are reducing the number of hired vehicles and replacing them with WHO vehicles that have already been procured. Recruitment process of drivers has commenced and hopefully by the beginning of April, we would have fully replaced all hired vehicles with WHO vehicles. Note that maintaining a large fleet of hired vehicles in all 14 districts is costing the Organization a huge amount of money that we cannot sustain. At the moment hired vehicles from the districts are gradually being withdrawn.
Ebola don don and we are moving into non-emergency again. We would therefore, effective 1 April go back to the pre-Ebola working hours: 8am-5pm Mondays-Thursdays and 8am-1pm on Fridays.
During the week, some of you may have been aware of hand bills that were distributed along the streets of Freetown as well as media publications with misleading information aimed at me with the intent to defame my character and the good image of the Organization. I want to let you know that all that was said in both hand bills and newspapers is not correct but my communication to you today is not the forum to go into further detail.
Meanwhile, my attention has been brought to some silent discontentment among staff in the office with regards to management and administrative issues. I take this very seriously. As I have stated in my previous communications to you, my vision is to manage this office with an open door policy. I am encouraging everyone to be open and put forward issues affecting them directly to me but also through the staff association. We are a team. What affects one staff member has an equal effect on all of us. Let us therefore discuss issues affecting us and let us find ways and means to solve our challenges together as a team.
Let me finish with some reflections from my visit to Bo and Pujehun districts this week giving me a first-hand insight about the situation in our districts, the progress and impact of our support, but also the level of collaboration between our teams and the district health authorities and partners. I have to admit that I was very impressed with the collaboration and outcomes of our support in the two districts. I was also able to be acquainted with some of the operational challenges with the colleagues there. The visit was indeed fulfilling and it is part of my regular tour to the field. Your district might just be the next one that I will visit.
Tomorrow the 20th of February, I will proceed on leave for a week. I will spend most of the leave period in Marrakech to meet friends from Sweden with whom this trip has been planned for a long time. The following week I will be at a Health Systems meeting in Barcelona with the Director for Planning from the MoHS. I will be back in the office on 7 March. Effective 20 February through 6 March, Dr Abdullai Jack, our new Deputy Head of Office will be acting in my absence.
My very best and warm regards to everyone,
Anders
1. General Remarks (Anders)
* Anders will be on vacation next week in Morocco (been planned for six months), and at the HSS Conference in Barcelona together with Sowmya and the MoHS the week after”

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