Researchers say poor management and opaque pay practices are hindering the Coronavirus Response in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to the Congo Research Group, which is based at New York University in New York, several new committees have been set up, but they didn’t solve the problem.

The report states that only $6m from the $363m Covid Funding awarded by IMF last fiscal year was publicly available.

BBC inquiries for comments from Congolese officials have not been answered by the government.

DR Congo, one of fifty countries in the world which have not fully vaccinated 10% of its population against coronavirus – according to a World Health Organization (WHO) target.

It is estimated that 0.1% (89 million) of these people in the country have received vaccines. According to WHO, over 57,000 have been diagnosed with coronavirus in DR Congo. 1,086 have also died.

Its dependence on the much-criticized Covax program, an underfunded healthcare system that has been ravaged by simultaneous outbreaks of Ebola, measles and cholera as well as the wide mistrust of authorities and conflicts between government officials and the armed forces in the east, are some of its challenges.

Critics also point out that corruption is rampant.

In June the former Health Minister Vital Kamerhe was sentenced to 20 years’ hard labour and barred from holding public office for 10 years, after facing charges of embezzling almost $50m (£39m) of public funds.

The trial, according to supporters of his candidacy for the presidency was an attempt to keep him out of running.

According to the Congo Research Group, the failures of previous managements of health funds have been ignored and that at least $240,000 was lost in purchase of ambulances for Covid’s response.

The study also quotes a government oversight body, the Inspection Générale des Finances, as saying one hospital in Kinshasa could not under any circumstance justify a recent invoice of $2.9m for the care of just 266 coronavirus patients.

Research also suggests that the health ministry paid bonuses to employees who were not usually well-paid, using international funding and emergency situations. The report states that the health ministry did not reveal how many people it employed or how much they paid in bonuses.

According to Congo Research Group, “Ad-hoc structures” created by the Congolese government to respond to the pandemic, including a multisectoral commission, a technical secretariat, advisory council, presidential taskforce, and a national fund to combat the coronavirus, have raised budgets, but not solved pre-existing issues.

This list includes:

  • Management of resources financial and people is poor
  • Poor information circulation
  • There are rivalries between these groups.

This resulted “in poor patient care” and “demotivated health workers”.

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