Angola Yellow Fever Funds Pay For Refuse Collection

Why was a sum of nearly US $200,000, allocated to fight the yellow fever epidemic in the Angolan oil-rich province of Cabinda, used instead to pay off a debt to a private refuse collection service?

That’s the question being asked by confused Health Ministry officials in the capital, Luanda, after they were left dumbfounded by news from Cabinda that the special funds allocated to yellow fever were instead diverted by the newly-appointed city administrator to pay arrears.

According to a source in the Provincial Government of Cabinda, this was one of the first steps taken by Arnaldo Tomás Puaty, who was only appointed to the position of municipal administrator on May 6 after previously working as an adviser to Cabinda’s Provincial Governor, Aldina da Lomba Catembo.  It’s only two months since the provincial governor announced a new household and business tax would be levied to help pay for refuse collection.

Health Ministry officials have told Maka Angola that 32 million kwanzas were made available to Cabinda in May as part of the nationwide effort to combat the yellow fever epidemic but not one cent was used for the health campaign, which has already caused at least eight confirmed deaths.

Maka Angola’s sources say that when challenged, the new administrator’s response was to admit that he directed the funds to pay an outstanding debt owed to the refuse collection private contractors.  His excuse was that he was not informed how the money was to be used.

“Since when does the Health Ministy allocate funds for refuse collection?” says our source at the Health Ministry.

Up to last week, Cabinda had recorded eight deaths from 53 cases of yellow fever, confirmed from samples sent to the World Health Organisation laboratory in Dakar, Senegal.  The lack of laboratory facilities in Angola means such samples have to be sent abroad for testing which already incurs a delay in identifying a rapidly-spreading epidemic such as yellow fever which has caused many hundreds of deaths in Angola so far this year, even though it is a treatable disease.