Calls for audit over Global Fund

By: Chhay Channyda

A senior opposition lawmaker yesterday demanded further probes by the Ministry of Health into the more than two-year-old Global Fund corruption scandal.

Following more than two hours of closed-door meetings with Minister of Health Mam Bunheng, CNRP lawmaker Ho Vann told Post Weekend that he urged the minister to continue investigating the case, which saw hundreds of thousands of NGO donor dollars misused at the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM), but no formal punishment meted out.

“The money was lost because of corruption within [CNM],” said Vann, referring to money returned to Global Fund following the fraud’s discovery.

“We want the Ministry of Health to do an internal audit because we took government money to pay [back] the Global Fund. [The government] accepts that there is corruption, but no one has been found guilty on that.”

Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Mam Bunheng refused to answer direct questions about the case, simply stating: “We will improve … for the sake of our people’s health.”

A November 2013 investigation found, among other things, that two senior Ministry of Health officials had defrauded the multibillion-dollar fund out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in return for allocating more than $11.7 million in contracts to two foreign firms that allegedly bribed them to secure the contracts.

Yesterday’s meeting also discussed food safety at markets and counterfeit medicine, addressed the lingering presence of unlicensed pharmacies and clinics, and saw Vann take aim at the government’s recent sale of state land at Makara 7 and Chamkarmon district hospitals.

“I suggested to the minister to stop selling state hospitals,” Vann said.

SOURCE: THE PHNOM PENH POST