Health Minister Dr. Amadou Lamin Samateh says there is massive corruption in Gambia’s health sector. He has accused health workers of trying to scam the government with a bogus and fake frontline workers list—numbering 300 ghost workers. Samateh warns that without his intervention, the fake list could have been used to defraud the government. He was speaking in Parliament on Saturday, where the National Assembly had rejected the government’s request to extend the 45 days national lockdown.
Samateh says some corrupt government officials had submitted names of frontline workers, some of whom were not qualified to be paid COVID-19 allowances. He said he had work with his staff overnight to vet the authenticity of the said list, only for him to realize that the 300 list was fake.
“ The first list was rejected. They brought another list, that list was so big. We said who are these people? We look at the list, they were names of 300 volunteers, nobody knows where they come from, they were volunteers, they do not work for the health sector. We asked them to remove the names of the all the volunteers, and to bring the list of the core people, and it was brought in. The second list was also rejected because it doesn’t look right,” he said.
Samateh added that most health workers are now chasing the COVID-19 allowances. Instead of doing their job, they want to be posted at the Accident Emergency Unit and other units in the hospital, so that they could be paid allowances, he added.
Samateh says the corruption at his Ministry was perpetrated by a minority of the staff.
“When we talk about these things, it is not the majority. It is just in the minority that do some of these things. The majority are hardworking, dedicated, sacrificing their lives for the people of this country. Now, that minority provided a list. In fact, when you look at the list and the estimates, it consumes almost the entire D500 million dalasis for allowances. That was the suggestion, we rejected it,” he said.
Samateh says his staffers have been preoccupied with making money than fighting the Coronavirus. He says he had replaced some of his project managers and replaced them with honest and competent staff. He said some of the replaced managers were allegedly engaged in corrupt practices.
Samateh has also accused Gambian health workers of stealing the country’s Ebola prevention funds during dictator Jammeh’s rule. He says some of the health workers, who have been affiliated with the alleged theft, had built expensive houses from the Ebola funds.
“They had made fake procurement with the Ebola funds. An Equipment was ordered from the Ebola funds, which never arrived in this country. They used the Ebola funds to build storey buildings,” he lamented.