Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has had a bit of a revolving door this past year, with long-time Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabiah abruptly replaced by Dr. Adel bin Mohammed Faqih (see Saudi Minister Of Health Replaced) last April, presumably over his inability to get control over their growing MERS problem.
On December 8th, we saw the Saudi King Appoints New MOH Amid Sweeping Changes To Ministries, appointing Dr. Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Hayazie to replace Dr. Faqih after just 8 months.
About 24 hours ago the Arabic press – and twitter – began talking about a corruption probe at the Saudi Ministry of Health that reportedly involves more than a billion Riyals (270 million USD) of coronavirus-related expenditures. Arabic machine translations being what they are (decidedly murky), I decided to wait until an English language report appeared to blog it.
While it only scratches the surface, and doesn’t name names or provide dates, the following report from Arab News at least provides us some idea of the scope of the investigation.
Follow the link to read the list of `suspect’ contracts.
RIYADH: ARAB NEWS
Published — Tuesday 20 January 2015
The Ministry of Health has suspended 38 contracts from a total of 148 for health-related programs on the suspicion of corruption, sources said.
Sources said the suspicions surrounded 38 contracts worth SR1 billion allocated to fighting the coronavirus. It was found the amount was not spent on preventive measures. The total amount of money spent on the contracts reached SR663 million.
A ministerial order has been issued to form an internal committee to verify these contracts and it has become apparent that some contracts had spent the allocated money in full, according to information revealed by sources.
It isn’t clear from this article exactly who did what, or under whose watch these `suspect’ contracts were let. Assuming this isn’t handled in-camera, this may get very messy. Except for the Arab News report above, I don’t mind much else in the English press about this.
If the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) has covered this story, I’ve been unable to find it.
We are still waiting for the long promised case control study to be released by the Saudi Ministry, and with the height of MERS season soon to be upon us (April & May if last year is any guide), the sooner this gets resolved the better.