Liberia: Gbarpolu Citizens Raise Red Flag, Demand Prosecution of County Health Officer, Others Amidst Allegation of Misappropriating Health Project Fund
MONROVIA – Gbarpolu County’s Health Officer Dr. Musa Zuanah has been suspended and replaced by Dr. Amelia Liberty amid allegations of embezzling $158,000 intended to construct a health center in Gbarma Town, Bopolu District, Gbarpolu County.
The Ministry of Health took the decision to suspend Dr. Zuanah following a string of protests staged by locals of the town over the delay in constructing what would be the first major health center for a town with a population of over 3,000 inhabitants.
FrontPageAfrica gathered that a huge portion of the amount was sourced from the County Development Fund directed to health, while a little portion was mobilized by the community.
During the protest, locals demanded the removal of Dr. Zuanah as county health officer and recommended that actions be taken against the County Health Team’s Health Director Jusu Kpanah, Asumanah Sahr, Procurement Officer of the county, and the County Health Accountant, Abraham L. Tokpah, all of whom are accused along with Dr. Zuanah.
The locals also demanded that those accused restitute the funds and be prosecuted by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.
A FrontPageAfrica investigation established that Community Health Director, Procurement Officer, and County Health Accountant are still being investigated, while being withdrawn from their respective assignments.
The investigation is being supervised by authorities at the MOH, including Deputy Minister for Administration, Norwu Howard, and Moibah Sherif from the MOH Human Resource Department, who is said to be the key investigator, FrontPageAfrica has established.
Efforts to get to Mr. Sherif were unsuccessful as his cell number could not be reached.
However, Minister Howard, following series of calls and text messages, informed FrontPageAfrica that they got a report on the alleged financial misappropriation and are investigating.
“We got a report and are investigating, this is all I have to say,” Minister Howard said in her response to FrontPageAfrica Monday, August 30.
However, Bopolu District Representative, Alfred Gayflor Koiwood, has confirmed that Dr. Zuanah and others linked to the alleged financial misappropriation are currently under investigation and have been recalled from their assignments in the county.
Representative Koiwood said he supports the citizens’ call for a further investigation by those accused, following the preliminary investigation by MOH.
Speaking Monday, August 30, the lawmaker, however, expressed dismay into a situation he believes has deprived that part of the county of needed health facilities.
Meanwhile, when contacted by FrontPageAfrica Monday, Dr. Zuanah admitted that citizens made an allegation against him, but described it as untrue and unfounded.
“They made series of allegations in which the Superintendent was told to investigate and one of that was the Gbarma Health Center,” Dr. Zuanah said.
He said he has never received any information about an investigation from the Ministry of Health, as being stated by Deputy Minister Howard.
Dr. Zuanah further attributed his decision to leave the county to fear of traditional activities, which he said has placed him in an unsafe condition.
However, he confirmed being replaced by a new County Health Officer.