EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA:- The Gambia’s Ministry of Health has promised to do a thorough investigations into allegations that some health workers are selling COVID-19 results.
The move comes following an undercover investigation by Malagen published on April 2 has caught health workers on camera selling negative covid-19 results to travelers.
The Health Ministry said on Tuesday that the sale of such results “undermines” the country’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Here is the full statement from the health ministry:
The Ministry of Health wishes to update the public on the recent “Malagen” online video publication “entitled COVID-19 and an Outbreak of Bribery, 2nd April 2021”, featuring Mr. Lamin Nyassi working in the COVID-19 response team and Mr. Lamin Sanneh former Laboratory Staff of both the National Public Health Laboratories and AFRIMED clinic laboratory.
This video is considered with utmost seriousness by the Ministry of Health. It will be investigated and appropriate action will be taken. The Ministry will continue to strengthen the internal controls and procedures to prevent such possibilities.
Mr. Nyassi vehemently denied involvement in selling COVID-19 test results as indicated in the video. However, this matter will further be thoroughly investigated and appropriate actions will be taken. The Ministry of Health does not condone any malpractice as a result investigated any hints of misconduct. A similar allegation had resulted in intercepting a gentleman who is still detained at the police station whilst investigation continue. The public is assured that the Ministry has been making efforts already to strengthen the system even before the production of the video currently in circulation.
Regarding Mr. Lamin Sanneh who was a former staff of the National Public Health Laboratories (NPHL) and AFRIMED Clinic, available information indicates that he was a staff of NPHL up to 2019 when he was found missing during the head count which led to the suspension of his salary and later to his dismissal. Hence, Mr. Sanneh therefore, is not a staff of the Ministry of Health. Since then Mr. Sanneh has not come to work at NPHL as a staff. Subsequently, Mr. Sanneh was said to have started work with AFRICMED as a laboratory staff. His involvement in the COVID-19 work was through AFRICMED but not through NPHL.
During the COVID-19 response and as part of strengthening partnership with the private sector, Mr. Sanneh was trained as a staff of AFRIMED and not NPHL. Until recently barely three (3) months ago, the NPHL was made to understand that Mr. Sanneh has been dismissed from AFRICMED Clinic. The Ministry wishes to inform the public that Mr. Lamin Sanneh is not working with the NPHL at the Ministry of Health and his involvement in the COVID-19 work has nothing to do with the NPHL.
Even though Mr. Sanneh is no longer a health worker under the Ministry of Health but the purported actions which we have no concrete evidence of, are highly condemned by the Ministry of Health as it goes to undermine our collective efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in The Gambia and beyond. The Ministry assures the public that it will take the allegation seriously and will mount an investigation into the matter immediately and the public will be informed of the outcome of the investigation and anyone found involved in the matter will face the full force of the law.
Similarly, the public is hereby warned about the implication of seeking a negative COVID-19 test result without doing the test both nationally and internationally. The activity only is tantamount to undermining governments’ response efforts and favouring transmission of the infection to family members, friends, neighbours, work mates and the general public here and abroad. It is an offense under the laws of the country to illicitly seek for a negative COVID-19 test results without taking the test.
There are robust measures put in place to ensure that these missteps do not happen again. Now all COVID- 19 certificates must be paid for at a bank and a verifiable receipt number is given before the test is done. This receipt number is also entered in the data base before a certificate is released.
At the sample collection site, there is always a team of minimum two people to ensure that samples are not tampered with. The signature on the certificate is only done by one person. There is also a unique barcode on each certificate to avoid alteration or forgery.
The cases mentioned in the video have been reported to the police station and due process is being instituted by the police. The Ministry had pursued in the past any allegation of corruption it was aware of and these new ones will be no exception.
The Ministry therefore solicits the support and cooperation of the public in this trying time of the investigation and as well as its efforts to contain COVID-19 in the country.