Audit Service Sierra Leone : Report on the audit of the management of the Ebola funds (May to October 2014)
The Auditor General is mandated to audit all institutions that are funded from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, as per the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone and the Audit Service Act 2014.
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation being one of the key ministries with a large share of the National Expenditure Budget, has been classified as a priority audit for the Audit Service Sierra Leone. Over the years, we have identified a number of weaknesses and made an equal number of recommendations to improve service delivery by the Ministry. For instance, for the financial years 2010 to 2012 inclusive, we made a total of 76 recommendations to the Ministry, but only 26 (i.e 34%) were implemented.
Although the current Ebola Virus Disease outbreak could not have been predicted, the weaknesses exposed in the healthcare system have been consistently reported on in our audit reports over the years.
The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa started in the Republic of Guinea, then it spread to Liberia. In May 2014 Sierra Leone reported its first case. Over the past months, infections have been reported in Nigeria, Mali, USA and most recently the United Kingdom. In Sierra Leone, according to the National Ebola Response Centre, over eight thousand have been infected and over two thousand nine hundred have died of the Ebola virus.
Since the outbreak and for the period to October 2014, the government has expended in excess of Le84 billion. These were funds donated by institutions and individuals mostly within Sierra Leone and from tax revenues. The funds have been spent on personal protective equipment, medical supplies, consumables and incentive (hazard) payments to healthcare workers.
In order to ensure that these funds have been judiciously accounted for, there has been the need to audit the use of these funds.
It is clear from our audit conducted that there continue to be lapses in the financial management system in Sierra Leone and these have ultimately resulted in the loss of funds and a reduction in the quality of service delivery in the health sector.
It is hoped that adequate action will be taken to address issues raised in this report in order to Prevent future reoccurrence of this nature.
It is worth noting that donor funds channeled through implementing agencies such as the UN and INGOs are not covered in this report. We are yet to receive information on the quantum of monies received and how they have been expended for the purpose of supporting the response to eradicate the EVD.