December 19, 2013 0 By STANDARD TIMESPRESS

…demands Over US$900,000 refund

Negotiations for the release of about US$52 Million to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to fight against Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV Aids is seriously in progress by Ms. Miatta Kargbo and some members in her team. While pressure, lobbying and diplomatic maneuvering are reportedly in progress to prevent a hold to be put on the funds, some money-hungry and tribalistic doctors attached to the Connaught Hospital are using their profession to sabotage the windfall that will benefit a number of Sierra Leoneans.

The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Ms. Kargbo is currently in Geneva attending to a world conference on health and other related programmes. It was during her absence that some aggrieved doctors took advantage of her absence and levied allegations against her of unprofessional behavior.

Ministry of Health and Sanitation sources say the money is still dandling in the coffer of the Global Fund as officials of the fund are on the neck of Government demanding a refund of over US$900.000.00(Nine Hundred Thousand Dollars), money that was meant to be spent in the fight against Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV Aids which was chopped by a handful of medical doctors that were in charge of the programmes.

According to estimation done relating to the money allegedly embezzled, over US$300,000.00(Three Hundred Thousand Dollars) was not accounted for in the fight against the HIV, Aids epidemic, whilst for the malaria programme over US$400,000.00(Four Hundred Thousand Dollars) went into the personal pockets of programme Managers and Doctors that were in charge of the programme. Over US$200.000.00 for the Tuberculosis programme could also not be accounted for. It was against this backdrop that the Global Fund is insisting that until the refund of the money allegedly embezzled by those in charge of the programmes the US$52Million slated for the programmes, which will commence in March/April 2014 will not be released.

The decision to hold back of the fund has forced Minister Kargbo to suggest for a payment plan to Global Fund, since the 2014 Budget read out recently by the Minister of Finance makes no provision for a refund of the money.

Some workers and Medical Doctors who recently learnt about the US$52 Million Fund for the three components are hoping for a decision to have been taking by President Koroma prior to the release of the fund, which would see the back of Minister Kargbo. Whether this will happen to give them undisputable access to the fund to plunder as was done in the past, which led to international scandal over the GAVI Fund is yet to be seen.