Sierra Leone Loses Track of Millions in Ebola Funds

A health worker and patient at the Borma Foya Hospital in Sierra Leone. A report says government ministers lost track of millions of dollars in emergency funds to fight the Ebola virus. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — A report by Sierra Leone’s national auditor says government ministers lost track of more than $3 million in internal emergency funds to fight the Ebola virus, impairing the response to the disease.

There is no paperwork to support payments of 14 billion leones, or $3.3 million, from government Ebola accounts, while $2.5 million in disbursements had incomplete documentation, the country’s auditor general, Lara Taylor-Pearce, said in the report.

The accounting lapses ultimately resulted in “a reduction in the quality of service delivery in the health sector,” according to the report, which was posted on the Audit Service’s website. It was presented to Parliament on Friday.

“It is hoped that adequate action will be taken to address issues raised in this report,” the report added.

The country of six million has had almost 11,000 Ebola cases and 3,363 deaths during the epidemic, which has raged in West Africa for nearly a year.

From May to October 2014, the period covered by the audit, the government spent more than $19 million on its Ebola response.

The money came from taxes and donations from institutions and individuals, mostly within Sierra Leone, and the figure does not include funds from the United Nations or charities, the report said…