Proof of communication with WHO over ventilator procurement is in writing: Ameen

Former Minister of Health of Maldives Abdullah Ameen | Photo: President's Office

Male’, Maldives – Reiterating that the contracting of Dubai based company, Executors General, to procure 75 ventilators for the government of Maldives was at the recommendation of World Health Organization (WHO), Health Minister of Maldives Abdullah Ameen has claimed that although the claim has been denied by WHO, he possesses written proof of the communication.

The matter tabled at the Committee of Member’s Privileges and Ethics is that of claims that Minister Ameen had provided false information to the Parliament upon initial questioning regarding the ventilator dispute. The issue arose after an audit report by the Auditor General’s Office revealed that WHO denied recommending Executor’s General to be contracted to procure the ventilators, despite Minister Ameen having have said otherwise at the Parliament.

Addressing the questions aimed at him by the sub committee formulated regarding the matter, Ameen said during Tuesday’s questioning that he is in possession of written proof of communication with WHO and that the said documents have also been shared with the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament.

Ameen further said that upon being provided with the information provided by WHO’s country representative Arvind Mathur, the employees of the Health Ministry verified the information by going to the WHO country office.

“If you check the communication of WHO with me, via the email address provided to be by the Ministry, the emails consist of official documentation of WHO. The emails they have sent to the relevant authorities of WHO also state “two hundred ventilators for the health facility in Maldives.”” Ameen said.

He also added that the communications with the Representative of WHO was also in his official capacity as Minister, therefore, making them official communications. He went on to justify that the communications were not of individual or personal nature and that any conversation which took place via phone call or text messages would also be considered as official communications.

“The lack of letters does not mean that there is no proof of communication with WHO” He said.

Ameen then proceeded to request the meeting not be broadcasted, citing that it would not be appropriate to publicize the details of emails between the Ministry and WHO. However, members of the sub committee refused to do so, stating that the Minister may speak of the contents other than that which requires to be kept confidential.

When asked what Ameen has to say about the audit report stating that WHO claims no communication was made between the Organization and the Ministry, Ameen said that he has nothing to stay about the Auditor General’s claims.

“How ever, the information forwarded by the Ministry of Health with regards to the questions asked to the Ministry by the Auditor General’s Office were not referred to.” Ameen said. He added that deciding upon a matter based on side of the story is not the best thing to do.

A total of 142 ventilators were contracted to be procured, where agreements were made between Executors General Trading LLC for 75 ventilators, MedTech Maldives Pvt Ltd for 50 ventilators and with Naadu Pvt Ltd to acquire 24 ventilators. However, the audit report had suggested foul play in all three contracts among which the issue of Executors General has been highlighted the most.