By Antoinette Y. Sendolo
Though Liberia has won the fight against the Ebola virus, the issue of managing and accounting for funds and other materials donated during the fight remains a major concern for citizens.
During the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the country, both local and international partners took keen interest in helping to combat the virus through donations of vehicles, assorted food items amongst other anti-Ebola materials.
At the onset of the virus outbreak, the issue of vehicles especially ambulances to get patients to various health facilities was a major challenge because at that time, the country could not boast of a single ambulance; a situation that led to the death of several citizens, mainly residents of rural communities.
The General Service Agency (GSA) which is responsible to procure and manage all Government’s assets with efficiency and transparency received several vehicles from donors through the Ministry of Health for coding and afterwards be used for the fight against the virus.
According to the Head of GSA, Madam Mary Broh, the Agency recorded 317 vehicles to be used for the fight against the virus but disclosed that the records from recent audit shows a lesser number of vehicles something she said needs serious attention.
“I think something went wrong because the vehicles’ figure from the audit is far different from the record we have here at the General Service Agency,” Madam Broh said.
The GSA boss also disclosed that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) gave 82 vehicles to the government to enhance the fight against the virus but the status of those vehicles is yet to be determined noting that no one can give account for them.
“The government received many vehicles and bikes from different institutions but right now we don’t have information on some of those items because most of the donations did not come directly to the GSA. We were only responsible for registration and coding. All the vehicles we got were distributed across the country in order for people to have easy access to health centers in their towns,” she explained.
Madam Broh added that apart from the vehicles given by the Center for Disease Control, twenty vehicles came from the Chinese and the Fula; Lebanese and Indian communities brought in some vehicles which were also sent to the counties but she could not give exact numbers.
“When the vehicles came in, due to the high death rate in the rural areas, most of the vehicles were given to county health teams to help them get to suspected patients on time,” Broh explained.
The head of GSA admitted that though the record from the audit seems different, the process of retrieving the vehicles that were given out is a major challenge for the government.
She said now that the country has been declared Ebola free, the government is going to retrieve those vehicles that were given out and later be redistributed to relevant government Ministries and Agencies.
“We are in the process of retrieving all the government vehicles that were given out for Ebola purposes and redistribute them to Ministries and Agencies that really need them. This process is going to be difficult because we have lots of dishonest people and some of the vehicles were reportedly involved in accident and abandoned,” Madam Broh further explained.
Even though GSA was registering and coding vehicles, it was also receiving and distributing other Ebola donations such as assorted food items and other anti-Ebola materials.
The GSA, according to Madam Broh, received what she termed as a huge consignment from China including drugs, food and sanitary materials. She said the GSA was able to successfully distribute those items to quarantined communities, and Ebola patients in various ETUs across the country.
Addressing the complaints from survivors, Madam Broh said due to the fact that the virus was new to the country and many people didn’t know that one could survive from the virus so there were no plans for survivors at the bringing of the outbreak but the GSA managed to include survivors who were taken home by the GSA in its distribution process.