WHO says working on Ebola funds misuse - report

20Jan 2019
The Guardian Reporter
Guardian On Sunday
WHO says working on Ebola funds misuse - report

THE World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that it was working to address claims that one of its workers has been implicated in misconduct following widespread reports that an official at the UN agency used Ebola funds to fly his girlfriend to West Africa.

A statement published on www.who.int said the allegations were being investigated and had so far been referred to the Office of Internal Oversight Services by the Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Media reports say whistle-blowers have also alleged that staff misused money intended to fight Ebola outbreaks in West Africa that began in 2013, as well as an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A UK-based newspaper, The Guardian, reported that the allegations include claims that funds intended for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa were misused, with staff fabricating a mission so that a senior employee’s girlfriend, a junior professional, could join him during the Ebola response.

The newspaper said the report also shows there were claims that during an Ebola outbreak in DRC last year, a plane was hired to transport three vehicles from a warehouse in Dubai at a cost of $1m (£773,000).

However, the claim has been refuted by Tarik Jašarević, a spokesperson for the WHO, saying the agency had shipped 10 vehicles from Dubai in May because “there were no vehicles available for sale in DRC that met minimum UN safety standards at the time”.

Jašarević said the cost of transporting the vehicles was $237,801.

The WHO said that it has put in place mechanisms by which anyone inside or outside the organization can report concerns about any form of suspected misconduct by WHO personnel.

“WHO has recently strengthened the capacity of its internal oversight mechanisms and has proven processes for reporting and dealing with allegations of misconduct,’’ read the statement in part.

“These include an independently-run integrity hotline which anyone can use to report concerns confidentially and anonymously. We regularly report the outcome of substantiated allegations arising from independent investigations to member states in our reports to governing bodies,’’ WHO said.

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