Permanent Secretary (ag), Ministry of Public Health Trevor Thomas says that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the United States Department of Commerce has requested a full audit of the US$5.5M malaria grant to Guyana under the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Thomas told Stabroek News that the audit was requested but he could not confirm how far back the Inspector General would be looking into. He noted that alleged irregularities in the programme may have triggered the IG’s decision while adding that it is the prerogative of any donor to request an audit at any time.
Stabroek News was told that in 2010 the police were called in after the alleged misappropriation of funds and some assets for the programme had gone missing. While the issue was a police investigation little information flowed from that investigation. Stabroek News was also made to understand that in addition to the OIG audit of the programme, the Guyana Government is also looking into a forensic audit of the programme with the intention of extending the audit to be inclusive of the HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis components of the Global Fund Grant. The total grant is valued at US$50.9M with US$40.9M being disbursed from 2005 to 2015.
Yesterday, tenders were opened at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board for audit services for a 2010 audit of the Global Fund’s malaria programme.
Since 2005 the Global Fund had awarded the Ministry of Public Health US$4.7M for the strengthening of the local capacity to respond to malaria. According to the Global Fund’s website the grant performance was given an inadequate rating but with potential demonstrated.
“This grant finances a program which seeks to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality in those priority geopolitical regions of the country with the highest incidence rate. Strategies used in the program include decentralization of activities and strengthening of local health services to improve access to early diagnosis and appropriate treatment for communities at risk,” stated the Fund’s website.
The Office of Inspector General seeks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department of Commerce’s programmes and operations. OIG also endeavours to detect and deter waste, fraud, and abuse.
OIG monitors and tracks the use of taxpayer dollars through audits, inspections, evaluations, and investigations.