Monrovia – FHI360 is sending a safeguarding expert to Liberia to reinforce and strengthen its safeguarding procedures following recent reports of alleged procedural missteps, according to the global health organization in a recent statement to journalRAGE.
By Gboko Stewart, [email protected]
“A safeguarding expert is traveling to Liberia, but this individual is not an investigator, rather they are working with the team to reinforce and strengthen our safeguarding procedures,” an FHI360 spokesperson said.
The deployment of the safeguarding expert from the organization’s headquarters in Washington to Monrovia comes in the wake of a recent allegation from Dominic Bropleh, a Liberian man who identifies as gay, that his health status of being HIV positive was outed by the global health company.
According to Bropleh, he signed a consent with the company for his picture to be used during its Social Behavioral and Change Campaign (SBCC). However, he said, the organization did not show him the messaging to be used prior to publication, thereby landing him in hot water when the flyers were posted across the country.
Bropleh’s cries have prompted the US Mission in Monrovia to launch an investigation into the matter as FHI360 implements the U.S. President’s Emergency Plans for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
It is not clear whether FHI360 and USAID are working in tandem during the course of the investigation.
FHI360, however, declined to provide the nomenclature and date of arrival of its safeguarding expert that has been seconded to the country. Sources have indicated that this could be due to security reasons as its Monrovia’s office has been reportedly closed for a week following the publication from journalRAGE that has been syndicated in FrontPage Africa and Daily Observer newspapers.
Sources have also hinted to journalRAGE that the organization’s compliance manager is expected into the country. Details about his trip to the country remain sketchy and under the wraps, but he is expected due to a complaint allegedly emanating from a staff of one of FHI’360’s implementing partners.
journalRAGE has gathered that the compliance manager operates independently of FHI360’s executive leadership team and reports directly to its board during an investigation.
The organization says it is working expeditiously on the investigation. “…and are working as quickly as we can to understand the circumstances and correct this situation,” an FHI360 person mentioned.
The company’s spokesperson revealed that they have reached out to Dominic Bropleh to offer support.
“He was not treated with the dignity and respect he deserved. We deeply regret that we felt short in meeting our commitment to safeguarding the people with whom we work.”
Said FHI360: “We have been doing this kind of work collaboratively with our peer navigators and our local partners around the world for a long time and we take great care in creating materials that are respectful, informative and support those most impacted by the HIV epidemic. We can tell you that we deeply respect the privacy of all the people we work with. We sincerely regret that we did not act quickly enough in this case.”
This article was funded in part through a grant from the US State Department. The funder has no say in its content.