After COVID-19 broke out in DR Congo in March 2020, the government went to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial assistance to assist its fight against the pandemic.
The IMF loaned the country $363 million in April 2020 but to date, the DR Congo government has been unable to give a veritable account of how the money was spent.
According to a just published report the Groupe d’etude sur le Congo (GEC) – Study Group on Congo – “The DR Congo has only published 40 documents on the website of the Ministry of Health justifying the utilisation of only six million US dollars.”
The report dubbed “Covid Business en RDC – Repense la Riposte au Epidemies” (Covid Business in DRC – Rethinking the Repost Against Epidemies”, noted that the health system of the DR Congo is “defective and under financed and finding it difficult to eradicate epidemies without important international support.”
“Faced with this new epidemic, the government created several ad hoc structures: ‘multisectoral committee’, ‘technical secretariat’, ‘consultative council’, ‘presidential task force’, ‘national fund for solidarity against the coronavirus’ etc,” the report said.
“However, the multiplication of structures does not resolve the problems raised by the previous reports namely, bad management of human and financial resources, bad circulation of information and rivalry between the actors which ends up in a bad taking charge of patients and a demotivation of health personnel.”
These various structures have considerably increased the budget for the fight against the COVID-19 without ameliorating the financial management, the report states, recalling that the “last two Ministers of Health were arrested following allegations of embezzlement of funds.”
The report points out abuses in financial management concerning the over-billing and opacity in the management of revenue derived for tests conducted on travellers.
“The Minister of Health profits from urgent situations and international support to pay allowances to personnel who are normally not well remunerated. For how many personnel? At what amount?” the GEC report revealed, adding that the Minister of Health has not been able to give adequate information on several of these inexplicable payments.
The GEC report recalled that during the fight against the Ebola, experts denounced it for becoming commercial property known then as “Ebola Business” which contributed to the violence still going on in the eastern DR Congo.
“The bad management of the fight against the COVID-19 brings into the open evidence of the importance of ameliorating the follow-up capacity of funds intended to fight against epidemics both on the part of the Congolese government and the international lenders,” the report said.
One and a half years after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, DR Congo has recorded 54,000 positive cases with 1,050 deaths.
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