USAID-Liberia Launches Investigation Into Misuse of Healthcare Funds

Liberia Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah

The U.S. Government through its diplomatic mission in the Liberian capital on Monday issued a statement in response to local media reports that funds provided to support healthcare of the people of the administrative district of Margibi County have been misused.

According to a statement, the U.S. Government says it appreciates the “swift response of the Ministry Of Health to make immediate changes while investigating the matter.. The USAID Mission in Liberia will decide whether to retain Margibi  as part of USAID’s government-to-government agreement pending a transparent investigation and associated actions to hold accountable anyone involved in the misuse  of any U.S. government funds,” the Embassy statement concluded

While the U.S. diplomatic mission did not stipulate what actions would be forthcoming if it is proved that the funds, which are sourced from U.S. taxpayers, a Congressional Research Report issued in May 2020, notes that as part of countering corruption through U.S. foreign assistance, ”…Congress has also established certain conditions and restrictions on assistance, a penalty for those that do not take efforts to combat corruption by withholding aid, while also seeking to minimize misuse of U.S foreign assistance by corrupt actors…”

In extreme cases the U.S. may seek an indictment and prosecution of those alleged to have misused its taxpayers’ funds.

Pervasive misuse of donor funds has been alleged over the years. Recently, on April 8, 2022, the Global Fund released a report on Liberia’s Ministry of Health, which alleged acts of corruption amounting to more than US$1M. The Ministry at the time responded that it would address the allegations and blamed “some bad actors” for the scandal. No report was completed since.

In its recent annual report, Transparency International stated that Liberia had dropped 3 basis points since 2021 in its Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which “measures how corruption each country’s public sector is perceived to be, according to experts and businesspeople.” Data sources used by Transparency International covered the public’s perception of corruption in government in the following areas:

Bribery

Diversion of public funds

Officials using their public office for private gain without facing consequences

Ability of governments to contain corruption in the public sector

Excessive red tape in the public sector which may increase opportunities for corruption

Nepotistic appointments in the civil service

Laws ensuring that public officials must disclose their finances and potential conflicts of interest

Legal protection for people who report cases of bribery and corruption

State capture by narrow vested interests

Access to information on public affairs/government activities

It remains to be seen of the Government of Liberia will officially respond to the U.S. Embassy’s statement.

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