Sierra Leone shines light on funds

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Freetown - Sierra Leone's anti-graft body said on Thursday it has opened a probe into the alleged misuse of more than a million dollars in donor funds by the health ministry.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said the misappropriated funds of $1 099 640 came from the Geneva-based Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) and the American-linked Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“This has resulted in the freezing of the current GAVI grant of over $500 000 and a new two-year grant of $5 399 371,” the ACC said in a statement.

The allegations included “undocumented expenses, cash disbursements from bank accounts without documentation and overcharged procurement costs relating to the purchase of ambulances”.

“We are very determined to bring those involved to book should we find any evidence of misappropriation,” ACC chief Joseph Camara told state television.

“We are going to make if difficult for people to put donor funds into their pockets,” he said.

According to World Health Organisation statistics, GAVI assistance since 2000 has totalled over $24-million for the purchase of vaccines such as the five-in-one shot which protects children against diptheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Hib (Haemophilus influenzae). - Sapa-AFP

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