MoH recommits to accountability

FamCast News
a month ago

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By Neo Kolane

The ministry of health has reassured development partners that the misappropriation of funds that was reported in 2018 – which saw up to M6.4 million going to waste – will never happen again.

This was disclosed by the ministry’s director of finance, ‘Mamocheko Letsepe at the occasion to celebrate direct funds disbursement and the use of public financial management systems in Maseru this week.

The event was also an award ceremony to recognise the best performing districts during the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine campaigns from 2022 to 2024.

According to Letsepe, these funds were meant for a human papilloma virus programme which had started in the 2012/2013 financial year.

The programme, which attained coverage of 91 percent, had to be abandoned in 2015 due to financial constraints.

However, an audit exercise was carried out and it emerged that the procurement of vaccines for diseases such as measles and rubella had resulted in overstocking that lead to the expiry of the vaccines.

Letsepe said the funds to procure the vaccines was a grant from Gavi Vaccine Alliance, but there was no oversight on their utilization, due to poor governance procedures.

“The expanded programme on immunization was not properly structured hence there was lack of, among others, accountability, adequate skills and insufficient trainings.

“There was also non-compliance with public procurement regulations.  The audit report made recommendations to mitigate the situation, and Gavi is working in collaboration with the ministry of health to implement the recommendations.”

The problem of poor financial management practices had, in the meantime, prompted Gavi to channel its finances through WHO, UNICEF and Clinton Health Access Initiative.

That move jolted the ministry of health to improve the HPV programme by buttressing its governance, budgeting and financial management systems; this included external and internal audit arrangements.

This reaction of the ministry was intended to support procurement of new vaccines used during campaigns and under-used vaccines such as Rotavirus and HPV, as well as maintenance of the supply chain.

At the same occasion, the Accountant General, ‘Malehlohonolo Mahase said Lesotho experienced less trust from years 2016-2017 and this was evidenced by its developing partners demonstrating reluctance to open their purse.

Mahase reiterated that this was because of poor accountability, financial indiscipline and distrust.

She said the fact that the developing partners are slowing coming back, is a testimony of visibly improved accountability and transparency.

“These are tenets of good governance and proper public financial management. When functional, children are able to go to school and to get vaccinated, and the mortality rate becomes manageable.

“We are also building our Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) as a master system and as a giant that is interlinked with all other systems from home affairs, to the extent that when a patient is admitted at Mokhotlong we will see it on IFMIS in Maseru that such a customer has been attended to.

“We are also having improved reports on the use of finances, from the projects to the government itself; we are talking the auditor general reports,” Mahase said.

She said the overhaul of their financial management systems was also a result of numerous assessments from development partners’ consultants.

“Lesotho is at a point where it gives assurance that all expenditure is now captured and reported to the accountant general on a monthly basis by all ministries, departments and agencies.

“Project funds are being audited, and we promise a favourable audit outcome. The long-term result shall be improved health and education systems that are accessed by all.

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