Irregularities suspected in ITNs distribution

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KATHMANDU, APR 14 – The Office of Auditor General (OAG) has suspected possible irregularities in Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) under the Department of Health Services while distributing Insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs).

The 52th Annual Report of the Office of Auditor General (OAG) has found that distribution of over a million ITNs have not been recorded. According to OAG, from December 11 to December 20 of 2013, over 2.1 million ITNs worth over Rs 610 million were brought inside the country from border checkpoints.

However, the EDCD had included goods worth around Rs 300 million in its financial statement while the status of the ITNs worth another Rs 300 million is not known.

The report states that among the 2.1 million ITNs, only around 1 million had been sent to malaria affected countries while there is no information regarding the remaining 1 million ITNs.

In a strong response, the OAG has asked authorities to investigate into the matter and take necessary actions.

Dr Baburam Marasini, director of EDCD, said two years back PSI, an INGO, had distributed malaria nets without registering them in the store of EDCD. However, last year following the directive of Ministry of Finance, the nets were first registered in EDCD store and then only distributed by PSI. “This is a sheer negligence of social welfare council and it should be held accountable. The EDCD has nothing to do with the unregistered nets,” said Dr Marasini.

The government has also been conducting malaria control programmes with the support from the Global Fund since 2004. The nets were also bought by Global Fund and were meant to be distributed in the country.

The EDCD says that the number of confirmed malaria cases has decreased by 1/3 in comparison to 2004. Statistics show there are over 3,200 malaria cases in Nepal at present.

Malaria is caused in humans through the sting of anopheles mosquito. According to the World Health Organization, the first symptoms of malaria are fever, headache, chills and vomiting, which may be mild and difficult to recognise as malaria.

It says that if not treated within 24 hours, the P falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness often leading to death. Children with severe malaria frequently develop one or more symptoms, including severe anaemia.