It can be recalled when the controversial COVID-19 organic herbal oil arrived in Liberia in a tiny box on a chartered flight last year, President George Weah, who along with a throng of officials of government, were present to receive the Madagascar herbal tea, told reporters that the Malagasy herb was a gesture from his “friend” the President of Guinea Bissau, Mr. Umaro Sissoco Embaló.
At the time, President Weah said his Malagasy counterpart had called him (Weah) two days earlier to inform him he was sending a preventive and cure for Coronavirus.
However, a recent audit conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) on the Ministry of Health has revealed that US$71,500 was used by the government of Liberia to bring the herbs into Liberia from Madagascar.
Recently appearing before the Joint Legislature Committee on Public Account (PAC), Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, confirmed that US$71,500 was used to procure the Covid-19 herb. However, she averred that the amount also included the cost of transporting the Malagasy herbal tea to Liberia.
But Bomi County Senator Edwin Snowe informed members of the Committee that the cost of the flight was shared among countries in the region that received the herb and not Liberia alone. He added that therefore, the amount needed more explanation than what the Minister Jallah had given.
Howbeit, the Ministry of Health in a statement issued late Thursday says it wishes to clarify what it terms the growing misconceptions regarding the process that preceded the bringing in of the Madagascar herbs, which the Ministry says was being promoted in that country as a cure for Coronavirus at the time .
During the heat of the outbreak, the Ministry of Health recalls, the leadership of that country offered to share with Liberia, with no cost some quantities of the Madagascar herbs, adding that other countries had already placed in huge orders for the herbs from Madagascar.
“The offer by Madagascar didn’t include the shipment or transportation of the herb, rather it became the responsibility of Liberia to facilitate the movement of the herbal tea from Madagascar to Liberia,” the Health Ministry statement read, adding, “Considering the emergency nature, coupled with the responsibility of the Minister of Health to save lives, a chattered flight was arranged from Guinea Bissau to bring the herbs from Madagascar to Liberia.
“The 71 thousand United States Dollars was paid to cover the cost of the chattered flight.”
The statement emphasized that as head of the Incident Management Systems, Dr. Jallah has the responsibility to safe lives especially in an emergency situation that the country was faced with.
The Ministry’s statement signed by its Communication Consultant, Sorbor George clarified that there was neither irregularity nor was there any financial wrongdoings in the Madagascar herbs arrangement as being construed in some quarters.
The Ministry maintains that no member of its leadership has been reported of any questionable acts in managing the affairs of the country’s health sector since the inception of the Weah-led government.