In a shocking revelation, it appears that malfeasance within the Kenyan Ministry of Health may have resulted in the misappropriation of approximately $1.353 million, potentially placing the country at risk for sanctions from the Global Fund, a Geneva-based financing organization.
Documents indicate that the Global Fund has requested the Kenyan Health Ministry to provide a satisfactory explanation for irregular spending patterns linked to a malaria awareness campaign funded by the organization. Unless justified, the nation could face significant consequences, including the return of funds and the possibility of sanctions.
The 2020-2021 campaign aimed at expanding knowledge of malaria prevention in areas heavily affected by the disease. However, audits by Kenya’s National Treasury and the Global Fund suggest that some officials may have exploited the program for personal gain, leading to significant financial irregularities.
Should these allegations prove true, Kenya faces the threat of being blacklisted by the Global Fund, which is currently investigating a series of “prohibited practices” that led to the disappearance of about Sh75 million. The organization has also hinted at cutting future funding for the malaria program in 2023-2024.
As per a communication issued in April, the Health Ministry has been given 60 days to provide proof of how a flagged Sh72.8 million portion of the donor funds was used, or be prepared to refund the amount. An additional Sh75.8 million is under scrutiny by the Global Fund for potential involvement in “prohibited practices”, the details of which remain undisclosed.
The internal review by the Global Fund reveals that a significant amount of money was paid through the mobile money platform M-Pesa, and recorded as salaries, possibly as a cover-up for the misappropriation.
Previously implicated in financial irregularities, several high-ranking officials within the Health Ministry continue to be involved with the management of Global Fund grants. The Fund has called for the immediate disengagement of these individuals from their current roles.
The Global Fund has further expressed its concerns about the Ministry’s leadership instability, weak financial management, and oversight in the malaria program. The organization has questioned the program’s ability to meet compliance requirements for the upcoming 2023-2024 LLIN campaign, in which the Global Fund is a major investor.
Despite an earlier request by the Global Fund to the Health Ministry for disciplinary action against those involved in prohibited practices, there has been no response. The fund has now demanded that the Ministry replace the Malaria Programme’s finance officer by June 30, 2023, and insists on reviewing the recruitment process to ensure the appointment of an ethical and qualified candidate.
The audit review also found instances of overpayment to security officers and other staff, and payments made without proper documentation. In Marsabit, an unaccounted cash payment of Sh672,000 (USD 6,113) was made for fuel, with only copies of proforma invoices provided as supporting documents.
The allegations and investigations serve as a stark reminder of the need for stringent financial oversight and transparency in the management of international grants. As Kenya risks severe repercussions, the case underlines the importance of trust and financial responsibility in the global fight against diseases like malaria.