As UNICEF Drugs Resold in Sierra Leone and Holiday Cards
Misrun, UN's Ban Is Silent
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
November 29 -- Medicine and
mosquito nets given for free by the UN system to the government of
Leone have reappeared
for sale for profit in Free Town. The abuse is widespread. Inner
City Press on
November 25 asked UN spokesperson Michele Montas if Ban Ki-moon or his
malaria Ray Chambers have any comment, any plans to address this
re-sale of UN
aid. First let's see if it's true, Ms
Montas said. But it has been captured on film, by the BBC's Panorama
instance, Inner City Press asked UNICEF for an answer, and got this
Hi Matthew, Just for your info, I
think it is important to note - a) it is the Government that
products, b) that UNICEF does conduct monitoring and requests action...
"Cotrimoxazole is on the
essential medicines list of most countries and is one of the products
highest demand from UNICEF. It is a well-tolerated and cost-effective
life-saving intervention for children living with HIV or who have been
to HIV. To help save the lives of
children in Sierra Leone, UNICEF provides supplies of nets and drugs to
Government for distribution.
"The Government provides
quarterly reports on health programme implementation and UNICEF
conducts spot-check monitoring of distribution. If irregularities are
uncovered, UNICEF informs the Government and it takes action...
"It is unrealistic to expect
that all of the drugs and nets we provide will be used for the purpose
which they are intended... Where we have information
about large-scale leakage from our programmes, we investigate and take
But what action has been taken in this case?
this well-crafted answer, though, with the underlying report, here.
There is a
need for the head of the UN system, Ban Ki-moon or at least his Malaria
Ray Chambers, to speak and act on the resale for profit
of UNICEF-granted drugs in Sierra
UNICEF's Veneman, with France's Kouchner,
Sierra Leone resales and holiday card snafus not shown
UNICEF also recently
answered Inner City Press'
question about its auditors' criticism of the use of holiday card sale
"Please provide UNICEF's
comment / response on deadline to para 42 from
A/63/474, that '[a]t UNICEF, the
Board observed that some National Committees were retaining up to 100
of the gross proceeds from the sale of greeting card products even
9.04 of the special supplement to the UNICEF Financial Regulations and
states that they may be authorized to retain only up to 25 per cent of
sales. The Advisory Committee concurs with the Board that UNICEF should
that the 25 per cent retention limit is applied and that, if necessary,
should evaluate and formalize any exceptions to the rule.'"
Press asked, "what is UNICEF's response, what is UNICEF doing in
Subsequently the following was received:
Hi Matthew, Here's an
answer re the Greeting Cards.
"In 2007, the UNICEF
greeting card business generated sales of $ 156 million and made a net
contribution to UNICEF programmes of $ 61 million, a healthy 39%
margin, comparing favourably to the industry average of 4% to 8%.
all consumer-product businesses, there are costs associated with the
UNICEF greeting cards. These include direct selling and marketing
production and manufacturing, logistics, and distribution.
"In some markets, UNICEF has
recently faced increased competitive pressure coupled with market
This has resulted in lower than expected sales and higher than expected
selling costs. In these markets, UNICEF and the relevant
Committees are presently reviewing alternative distribution models to
the cost to sales ratio and improved levels of
UNICEF's spokesman's always erudite answers, one wonders if "the
Committees" include UNICEF
Germany, faced earlier this year with
scandal which UNICEF
also minimized, at least initially. We await Ban Ki-moon's
views and action on the sale for profit of UNICEF-given drugs in Sierra
children is laudable, but oversight is needed. This can appear to be
UNICEF, witness not only the above but also the UN's reticence to
chief's granting of the UN's North Lawn to Madonna and a
charity earlier this year. UNICEF's chief has yet to hold a press
Q&A in UN headquarters since then.
Footnote: And now
some observers of both the UN and
United States political scenes opine that the top position at UNICEF
be in for a change to be believed in...
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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