Government has failed to complete the construction of Ebola Sites by the end of 2016 as specified in project documents due to delays in social and environmental assessments, it has been established.
The K4.5 billion World Bank project, whose objective is to create capacity in the country’s health facilities to respond to an Ebola emergency, was earmarked to be completed in seven districts across the country before the end of the just-ended year.
So far, only incomplete structures have been erected in the beneficiary districts of the project that include Mwanza, Dedza, Karonga, Mchinji, Blantyre, Mzuzu and Lilongwe.
When asked for comment, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Alfred Kutengule referred the matter to Ministry of Health, saying, “The project is being implemented by Ministry of Health and, therefore, the Ministry of Health should have the details.”
Ministry of Health deputy director of preventive health services (epidemiology) Dr Matthews Kagoli confirmed the delay, but said the project had been extended and that it would be complete by June 2017.
“The project was supposed to be finalised on December 31 2016, but due to social and environmental assessments, which are a standard procedure for World Bank projects, we had no other choice but to do them. This was our major delay but we are proceeding with everything once the holidays are complete,” he said
According to Kagoli, World Bank and the Ministry of Health have been in contact on project extension but he could not say when the two realised that the project would need to be extended.
“This is a big project and we will train a lot of health workers. We also want to intensify disease surveillance in general, but let me assure you that all is well and we will go as planned,” he said.
Initially in 2014, the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development asked the World Bank to re-allocate funds meant for the National Aids Commission (NAC) HIV and Aids project to cater for the Ebola Preparedness Plan (EPP).
According to the letter dated November 5th and addressed to World Bank country director for Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Kandhavi Kadiressan, government says the funds will go a long way in setting up an emergency response for Ebola.
“The bank is already aware that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is helping Malawi to establish a robust emergency response to prevent an outright outbreak in the first place, and in the event of an outbreak, to contain the impact,” reads the latter
Ebola first broke out in West Africa, where hundreds of people were reported dead.
The outbreak has since been contained as there have been no reports for over nine months now. n