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Sierra Leone back on global aid list after graft probe

Sierra Leone back on global aid list after graft probe

Sierra Leone has been granted more than $5 million towards its vaccination programme, the government said Friday, just months after the aid was frozen when $1 million in donations went missing.

AFP – Sierra Leone has been granted more than $5 million towards its vaccination programme, the government said Friday, just months after the aid was frozen when $1 million in donations went missing.

The Geneva-based Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunization (GAVI) approved the $5.4 million grant after being satisfied that the impoverished West African nation was cracking down on corruption, the health ministry said.

Health Minister Miatta Kargbo said his department had “turned a new page in its relationship with GAVI”.

“We requested $3.7 million to implement the programme but based on the reforms we have undertaken, our partners decided to increase it to $5.4 million.

“The ministry will continue to redefine itself on the basis of transparency, accountability and good governance.”

GAVI halted its aid late last year after an internal audit showed that $1,099,640 (750,000 Euros) in funds it had granted Sierra Leone had disappeared.

The country’s Anti-Corruption Commission said in March 29 officials, including six doctors, were being prosecuted for misuse of the missing funds.

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

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

Culled from France-24

John Tarawally

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