KIGALI - Four senior officials in the Ministry of Health are being investigated in connection with mismanagement of resources from the Global Fund, The New Times has learnt.
The officials are; Dr. Daniel Ngamije, the Coordinator of the Project Management Unit (PMU) of the Global Fund, Jean Pierre Munyabugingo, a Procurement Specialist at the PMU, Jean Baptist Gatabazi, the Head of the Microbiology Unit at the National Reference Laboratory and Emmanuel Ruzindana, the head of the Parastology Unit.
The officials have already been sent on forced leave as investigations into the alleged misappropriation continue.
In a phone interview yesterday with The New Times, Dr. Anita Asiimwe, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against HIV/AIDS (CNLS) confirmed the development. She, however, could not confirm the exact amount the officials allegedly mismanaged or embezzled by press time.
The officials are suspected to have mismanaged millions of funds from the Global Fund which were meant to secure equipment for the National Reference Laboratory.
“All I can say is that further investigations into this alleged corruption are still going on. We have handed over the case to police to find out how much is involved,” Dr Asiimwe said.
Dr. Asiimwe denied that last week’s visit to the country by Global Fund officials was connected to the controversy surrounding the funds.
“The visit by Global Fund officials was not in anyway connected to this case. The team which was here was the Physical Review team who had come to inspect projects under the National Strategic Fund to fight HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis,” Asiimwe explained.
Asked whether Global Fund won’t withdraw funds like it has happened in some other African countries, where mismanagement and embezzlement have been recorded, Assimwe said that Global Fund does not ‘withdraw’ but ‘hold back’ the funds until the investigations are complete.
“I don’t think that will be the case for Rwanda. The Minister of Health has already met the head of the Global Fund and informed him of the government stance of zero tolerance to corruption. He has assured him that stern measures will be taken as soon as investigations are complete,” Asiimwe added.
According to information on the fund’s website, three grants worth $130.2 million from the Global Fund have helped to dramatically expand the fight against HIV/AIDS in Rwanda.
In 2003, less than 1% of the population who needed antiretroviral treatment had access to it. By 2007, this proportion had increased to 71% thanks to efforts by the Rwandan government and support from the Global Fund and other donors.
“Global Fund-supported programs have provided antiretroviral therapy to 15,700 patients, reached over 20,000 women with a complete course of ARV prophylaxis to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission and set up over 120 sites to offer counseling and testing services,” the fund said.
Since its establishment, the Global Fund has signed grants worth $14.9 billion across 140 countries.
Of this total, $6.7 billion has been disbursed.