UN to issue first report on Ebola funds

Health workers walk at an Ebola treatment center on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone on November 13, 2014 (AFP Photo/Francisco Leong) (AFP/File)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The United Nations will this week publish a first report on funding for the Ebola response, a top official said Wednesday, after Sierra Leone lost track of more than $3 million donated to fight the epidemic.

An auditor's report released in Freetown last week raised questions about the misuse of Ebola emergency funds, although these were from institutions and individuals, and not from the United Nations.

UN Ebola coordinator David Nabarro told the General Assembly that a special fund set up to quickly disburse funds had handed out $ 131 million from 31 donors since September.

"This week we are going to show you how transparent the operations of this fund have been. We will publish a report about what is being done with all the contributions," Nabarro said.

The UN move to account for the distribution of funds to fight Ebola came as agencies were still struggling with a shortfall to confront the epidemic.

Of the $1.5 billion requested from donors, only $600 million have been received, said Nabarro.

Sierra Leone's auditor general Laura Taylor-Pearce reported last week that there were "lapses in the financial management system in Sierra Leone and these have ultimately resulted in the loss of funds and a reduction of the quality of service delivery in the health sector."

Ministers lost track of more than $3 million in emergency funds, with no paperwork to support the contracts, the report said.

Nabarro stressed that while there were 10 times fewer cases of Ebola in West Africa each week than in September, "preventing the final 10 percent of infections may well be the hardest part of the response."

Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia -- the countries at the epicenter of the outbreak - vowed at a summit at the weekend to step up efforts to become Ebola-free in 60 days.

More than 9,200 people have died in the epidemic that erupted in December 2013.