By Nicholas Bass
The State’s first prosecution witness, Satang B. Houma Wednesday told Banjul High Court that the Global Fund gave $30 million to the Ministry of Health (MOH) for implementations of malaria control activities from 2018 to 30th June 2020.
Testifying before Justice Ebrima Jaiteh in an ongoing corruption trial leveled against: Permanent Secretary of MOH, Muhammadou Lamin Jaiteh, Manager of Malaria Control Programme, Balla Kandeh and Omar Malleh Ceesay, the Executive Control ProgrammeDirector of Health Promotion Development Organization (HePDO) the Financial Controller of MOH Houma said that HePDO and Catholic Relief Service are sub-recipients of the funds of the Ministry of Health with the Global Fund, noting that the MOH is the principal recipient of the funds of the Global Fund.
Houma also said that the $30 million grant the MOH benefited from the Global Fund went through stages of approval, noting that the Ministry prioritized on the relevant activities budgeted by the Manager of the Malaria Control Programme.
She pointed out that MOH also signed a separate memorandum of understanding with HePDO for the implementation of malaria immunization and spraying walls for malaria prevention
Houma further stated that the MOH made a payment of 2.9 million Dalasi installment for the first activities of malaria control programme, noting that the remaining three activities were spread in three installment payment each.
Mrs. Houma pointed out that the 2nd and 3rd and 4th installment payments were about D2.1 million and D2.86 and D3.5 million respectively stating that it totaled to D11,470,023.
Houma under cross-examination with defense lawyer Lamin S. Camara affirmed that the MOH did receive any complaint with the way and manner in which the funds were utilized by sub-recipients, adding that the financial audit review or audit goes through three organizations, noting that there is a local firm that Global Fund assigns to review the utilization of funds. She added by saying that the MOH also audits the utilization of funds every six (6) months.
It could be recalled that Balla Kandeh, Omar MallehCeesay and Muhammadou Lamin Jaiteh sometime in the year 2018 and 2020 were charged with conspiracy to commit felony, official corruption, economic crimes, theft and forgery while Balla Kandehand Muhammadou Lamin Jaiteh on a separate charge are tried on disobedience of statutory duty.