Liberia Coordinating Mechanism Calls On the Ministry of Health to Take Transparent, Strong Action Following the Global Fund OIG

Monrovia — The Liberia Coordinating Mechanism (LCM) acknowledges the investigative report published on April 8th by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Global Fund (TGF) to fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. The OIG report highlights systemic fraud and misappropriation by the Liberian Ministry of Health (MoH), a Global Fund grant Principal Recipient, and recommends that robust actions are taken by the Government of Liberia.

The LCM calls on the Ministry of Health to publicize the actions it will take to improve supervision of activities, reduce procurement and travel-related fraud and fund misuse, and to increase staff accountability.

The report is the first comprehensive audit review in the last-3-years of the Global Fund grant implementation requested by the Ministry of Health following an internal review of its systems and control mechanism as reported to the LCM in 2015.

The LCM provided consent for the commissioning of the audit Investigation and is in full support of its findings that pinpoint misuse of resources, fraud, and mismanagement.

Key findings are as follows:

Procurement fraud totaling US$0.19 million for vehicle repairs and advertising services

No assurance of program delivery in 75% of cases reviewed

US$0.52 million in grant funds were wasted or misused for the mother peer program and travel-related costs

MoH concealed improper payments of fuel taxes of at least US$0.16 million

The former Fiscal Agent's oversight was ineffective, and its personnel engaged in conflicts of interest and misappropriation of grant funds

The report concludes that "MoH controls, policies, and oversight to mitigate fraud and misappropriation were either insufficient or did not exist. The Global Fund's Fiscal Agent did not adequately mitigate the risk of fraud, and engaged in conflicts of interest and misappropriation, including accepting grant funds for DSA and fuel coupons for activities that did not take place."The Global Fund Secretariat was aware of fraud red flags and other wrongdoing in MoHmanaged grants from 2015, but did not report the matters at issue in this investigation to the OIG."

The LCM assures the general public of continuous strengthening of its oversight role for the smooth implementation of the Global Fund grants in Liberia.

The findings of the investigation are alarming and must be taken seriously. At this juncture, the Ministry of Health, LCM, and Liberia will be judged by all of our actions and inactions to set these health programs back on track to maximize results and funding and to hold those who are not interested in those objectives accountable."

The MOH and Global Fund have initiated a series of reforms and the LCM calls on the MOH to make those changes public. The LCM has considered revision of the current Global Fund grants, and the future of the Ministry of Health as the principal grant recipient. To this end, the LCM is in the process of issuing an "expression of interest" for organizations that are interested and capable of operating as Principal Recipients in the critical program areas of Malaria, HIV, Tuberculosis, and health systems strengthening.

About the LCM: The LCM known globally as Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM), established in 2006, is a national body responsible for the development and submission of funding applications to the Global Fund (TGF) to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria on behalf of Liberia. The LCM also nominates Principal Recipient/s (PR/s) to execute grants awarded by the Global Fund, oversees grant implementation, and ensures linkages and consistency between Global Fund grants and other national health and development programs in Liberia.

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