KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 – Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) former health minister was arrested over the alleged mismanagement of funds allocated for the nation’s fight against an ongoing Ebola epidemic.
Oly Ilunga Kalenga was taken into custody as he was believed to have planned an evasion of legal proceedings by absconding, according to the national police as cited by Reuters.
“Unfortunately, police received information about his disappearance with a view to reaching Congo-Brazzaville,” the police’s press service said, referring to the neighbouring Congo Republic.
Ilunga, who is likely to face a prosecutor on September 16, had been questioned by police about his role in managing the Ebola response, according to his lawyers.
They denied any wrongdoing by Ilunga.
Ilunga was in charge of the country’s management of the Ebola outbreak for nearly a year. In July, the presidency removed Ilunga from the responsibility.
A few days later, he resigned from his position, citing “interference in the management of the response” to the epidemic.
The Ebola epidemic in the African nation is the second deadliest in the nation, causing the loss of thousands of lives.
Figures released by the DRC’s health ministry this week showed that Ebola deaths in the country’s eastern regions had exceeded 2,000, while confirmed cases of the virus are now more than 3,000.
The region, which has seen armed groups battling against each other for decades, is also facing another problem — a mistrust of health workers and widespread security issues, which is sabotaging the fight against the outbreak.
Amid the unrest, more than 200,000 people have been vaccinated, including health workers in Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi, all of which border the DRC.
The vaccine, produced by US-based Merck, is experimental but is estimated to be 97.5 percent effective.