Niamey - Niger has detained and charged 21 health officials suspected of embezzling around $2-million in aid money meant to fund a vaccination campaign, the health ministry said on Monday.

“Hearings began on February 21 and so far 21 out of the 31 suspects have been brought under custody at the Kollo prison,” a ministry spokesperson told AFP.

Among those detained are several officials from the ministry's department in charge of a broad immunisation campaign against polio, measles and meningitis, among other preventable diseases.

According to newspapers in Niger, around $2-million was syphoned off between 2007 and 2010 from funds mainly supplied by donors such as the GAVI Alliance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organisation and the World Bank. - Sapa-AFP