Former minister arrested over alleged mismanagement of Congo Ebola funds

Sunday September 15 2019

Sunday September 15 2019

Former Democratic Republic of Congo health minister Oly Ilunga has been detained over allegations of mismanaging public funds worth $4.3 million that were allocated to fighting the Ebola outbreak in the country, one of his lawyers told CNN on Monday. He has denied any wrongdoing, said his lawyer, Guy Bayeka.

For the remaining $2.4 million "the accounts show that that sum was disbursed exclusively for the objective of fighting the Ebola virus", they added in their statement.

In his resignation letter, Ilunga criticized his removal from the position and the World Health Organization's (WHO) plan to use a second experimental Ebola vaccine. As he resigned, Ilunga deplored the lack of cooperation between him, the president and the prime minister in response to the deadly Ebola outbreak.

President Felix Tshisekedi had also stripped him of overall responsibility for tackling the outbreak and handed control to Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director of the DRC's National Institute for Biomedical Research.

Of the total cases, 56% (1,737) were women, 29% (886) were under 18, and 5% (157) were health workers. As of 11 September this year, the Ministry of Healthhas recorded3,099 cases (2,988 confirmed and 111 probable), including 2,074 deaths. Two treatments deployed as part of a clinical trial have been found to save nine of 10 lives if used at the optimum time.

The WHO's latest update shows that the rate of transmission has continued to ease in the last week, with 40 new confirmed cases reported in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

Donors have provided more than $150m (£120m) to combat Ebola to date.

According to the WHO's Strategic Response Plan "the estimated funding requirement for all partners for the period July to December 2019 is US$287 million, including US$120-140 million for World Health Organization".