Questions Raised About World Bank Loan for Hospital Reconstruction

Following the January and February 2001 earthquakes, the World Bank provided El Salvador with a $142.6 million loan to rebuild seven major hospitals that were damaged.  According to La Prensa Grafica, 99% of the World Bank loan has been disbursed, but little progress has been made.  As reported by Diego Murica from El Faro, only two of the seven hospitals are complete, while crews are working on four other hospitals, and have not even begun on the other. 

Having run out of funding with so little work completed, the Funes Administration began asking where the money went when they took office in June 2009.  In one example, the World Bank loan earmarked $29.9 million for renovation of the Maternity Hospital in San Salvador, but the funds have all but disappeared with little accounting.  Though the new administration has only just begun to look into the matter, the current Minister of Health Maria Isabel Rodriguez said their investigation has resulted in more questions than answers.  So far, the greatest suspicion rests with the former Minister of Health Guillermo Maza who was responsible for the reconstruction project.

To complete repairs to the Maternity Hospital, the government of El Salvador is now turning to the Central American Bank for Economic Integration for a new $41 million loan.  The Diario de Hoy reports that the Ministry of Housing Carlos Cáceres hopes to secure the loan by 2010 and complete construction by 2011 or 2012. Cecilia Reyes de Morán, the women in charge of this project says that the hospital will include 38 offices for outpatient visits, 8 emergency rooms, 10 operating rooms as well as 391 beds, 150 bassinets for new born babies.

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