GAVI recovering Cameroon, Niger funds
Geneva - A global financier of vaccines for children in poor countries said on Thursday it is working with the governments of Cameroon and Niger to recover up to $6.7m in misused or stolen funds.
The money in question came from cash-based programmes that are supported by the $7bn Geneva-based GAVI Alliance, a global vaccines group.
The GAVI alliance includes the World Health Organisation, Unicef, the vaccine industry and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.
A statement from GAVI — the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation — said the health ministries of both countries "have co-operated fully and confirmed their commitment to take all necessary measures, including the reimbursement of misused funds".
GAVI said investigators found up to $4.2m of misused funds in Cameroon, including $1.8m that is being investigated as theft. Up to $2.5m in Niger was misused, it said, including $1.5m that is being investigated as theft.
"Also of concern are the other misused funds which were spent without sufficient documentation or used to pay for activities in the health sector but outside the scope of GAVI's grant agreements," the organisation said.
The UN missions of Cameroon and Niger in Geneva did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Last year, GAVI announced the investigations into the misuse of grant money that was supposed to be spent for "health systems strengthening" in Cameroon and "immunisation services support" in Niger and suspended funding for those programs.
But it continued to support other children's immunisation programmes in those two nations.
GAVI was formally launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2000, two months after the Gates Foundation pledged $750m over five years to deliver vaccines to millions of the world's poorest children.
Since then, GAVI says it has committed funds toward programmes in dozens of countries, most of it going to purchase vaccines.