Police authorities have now taken over the investigation into the multi-million-dollar fraud discovered by international organisation Global Fund in its malaria programme in Guyana.
Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton said recently that given the gravity of the situation, the matter was handed over to the Police to conduct a deeper investigation with the aim of finding those culpable and bringing charges before them.
Following complaints of mass irregularities in the Global Fund malaria programme in Guyana, the international organisation commenced an investigation, covering the period January 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015.
According to the findings of the investigation, there were complaints of fabricated data in relation to the distribution of bed nets, malaria surveillance activities and associated fraudulent expenditures, including ‘per diems’ and fuel for programmatic work that allegedly did not take place.
The irregularities were facilitated by the inadequate management of the Global Fund malaria programme by the Vector Control Services (VCS) of the Public Health Ministry, which included poor record-keeping and a failure to respond to Global Fund Secretariat Management Actions.
During the period under investigation, Dr Reyaud Rahman was the Director of the VCS. He resigned in December 2015.
Dr Norton had disclosed previously that the organisation demanded that the Government pay back the monies that were misappropriated.
Prompted for a precise figure, the Public Health Minister was unable to disclose such at the moment. However, he noted that after discussions with the organisation, Government succeeded in reducing the initial amount requested.
“For an example, we took money from Global Fund to build a laboratory at Mahdia, which is entirely different from a house. What was built in Mahdia is a house. So we cannot present that, Global Fund would say we asked for a lab and this is not a lab, so that cannot be their money. So we have to convert this into a lab with our own money and present that to Global Fund,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Dr Norton had raised concerns that this situation might blacklist Guyana from receiving funding in the future.
“At this point in time, paying any debt of that nature would certainly not be in the best interest of the economy of the country. We cannot afford to do that. It is unfortunate that this had to happen, we are definitely in need of such funding and we are just hoping that this will not affect us in the future to access such funding,” he had expressed.