DRC ex-health minister questioned over use of Ebola funds

– Oly Ilunga, who resigned as DR Congo health minister last month, was
questioned on Tuesday as part of an inquiry into the use of public funds
earmarked to tackle the Ebola epidemic, his lawyer said.

The former minister’s evidence
was heard by the attorney general and “trusts in the justice system of his
country,” lawyer Guy Kabeya told AFP.

A judicial source said Ilunga had
left “freely”. Three of the minister’s former
co-workers, including a doctor, were held in custody the source added,
confirming a report by the Top Congo radio station.

The hearings were part of a
preliminary inquiry “into the management of substantial funds provided by
the government for the battle against the Ebola virus”, which has claimed
almost 2 000 lives, another source said.

Ilunga resigned last month,
citing his removal as the head of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola
response team and concerns over a proposed “experiment” with a new,
unlicensed vaccine.

Situation on ground ‘under control’

170 000 people have been given an Ebola vaccine manufactured by German pharma
giant Merck since the outbreak started in the Democratic Republic of Congo a
year ago.

The World Health Organisation
(WHO) has been pushing for the introduction of a second vaccine produced by US
company Johnson & Johnson, but the health ministry under Ilunga has
resisted such a move, citing the risks of introducing a new product in
communities where mistrust of Ebola responders is already high.

The Merck vaccine is tested but
unlicensed, while the Johnson & Johnson drug is still in the trial
investigation stage.

The vast central African nation’s
new pointman on Ebola, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, told reporters on Tuesday that
“we now have the situation on the ground under control”.

“There is great hope that
things will get a lot better in the days to come,” he added, thanking
China for 60 tons of medical equipment to tackle the problem.

Since August last year, Ebola has
killed more than 1 900 people in DR Congo, the second-biggest epidemic since
more than 11 300 people died in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone between 2014
and 2016.

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Source link : https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/drc-ex-health-minister-questioned-over-use-of-ebola-funds-20190828-2

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Publish date : 2019-08-28 09:37:14

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