Odious Debts Online
March 19, 2008
The World Bank and the government of India have announced they will launch an official investigation into findings of “serious incidents of fraud and corruption” in five bank-financed health projects in India worth $570 million.
The findings uncovered by an internal World Bank review earlier this year have resulted in the current move to investigate the programs further, and lend credence to warnings from a former physician turned investigator for the bank, who provided both the bank and the government of India with evidence that defective HIV/AIDS test kits purchased with bank funds had been supplied by the Indian government to hospitals and blood banks across the country.
Dr. Kunal Saha, a physician specializing in AIDS retained by the World Bank to review the bank-funded HIV/AIDS control project, found that the test kits, purchased en masse and distributed by Monozyme, Ltd., gave ‘false negative’ results. HIV-contaminated blood not reliably detected by the test kits could therefore be accepted for use in transfusions.
Last December, as news of widespread use of defective HIV test kits drew media attention in India, the World Bank and the government of India “solicited a misleading statement” from a laboratory testing expert at the U.S. Center for Disease Control vouching for the kits’ accuracy, reports the Washington watchdog GAP.
“Less than two months later, however, when obliged to release its own Detailed Implementation Review (DIR), the bank was forced to acknowledge the validity of the claims made by Dr. Saha some seven months earlier – a direct contradiction of the CDC expert’s statements,” reports GAP.
The bank said it would launch nine separate investigations that could lead to broad institutional revisions of how its programs are monitored and conducted. The government of India also referred three related cases to its Central Bureau for Investigation.