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Sierra Leone failed to account for Ebola funds – report
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Sierra Leone failed to account for Ebola funds – report

Yvonne Williams

Sierra Leone’s auditor-general’s report alleges that the government could not account for nearly a third of the 20 million dollars earmarked for fighting Ebola in 2014.

The report which was released on Saturday in Freetown indicated that bad governance might have hindered the battle against the epidemic.

The Auditor-General’s Office in the country said the report looked at 19.5 million dollars that government set aside for fighting the hemorrhagic fever from the start of the outbreak between May and October, 2014.

It noted that most of the money came from tax revenues and donations by domestic institutions and individuals.

It said the funds were mostly disbursed on personal protective equipment, medical supplies, consumables and bonus payments to healthcare workers.

The report said it found that more than more than 5 million dollars from the government’s emergency health response account had no supporting documents to substantiate how they were spent.

It said a further seven million dollars spent from the same account were missing receipts and invoices.

“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.

“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 said.

It said more than 10,000 Ebola cases had been reported in Sierra Leone since May 2014; making it the hardest hit country in what is the worst recorded outbreak of the disease.

Earlier this week, Sierra Leone said it had cleaned up a list thought to contain thousands of “ghost workers’’ on its Ebola staff.

Government also promised to prosecute those who sought to swindle money from the government.

(Reuters/NAN)