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Letter | Feb 9, 2019

Of Ineffective Anti-Snake Serum, Procurement Breaches and Public Health Safety Concerns- SIX Questions Seeking Answers.

By Franklin Cudjoe

Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu

Minister of Health

Ministries, Accra

Dear Honourable Minister,

Of Ineffective Anti-Snake Serum, Procurement Breaches and Public Health Safety Concerns- SIX Questions Seeking Answers.

Greetings.  We at IMANI have been particularly impressed with the seriousness you attached to the pledge by your government to pay the humongous arrears owed service providers of the National Health Insurance Authority.  It is our hope that the odious political culture of diverting statutory revenues that otherwise should automatically be remitted to the health scheme has been banished for good and your legacy enviably recorded in the annals of our health care politics and policy.

We are also aware of your efforts to fix the inhumane gaps in primary health care delivery in Ghana, particularly the provision of life-saving medicines in a timely and cost-effective manner. 

Nonetheless, we have expressed our reservations about some of the processes your outfit is using to achieve an otherwise noble objective. One of them is the innovation-deficient drone project to fly some of these essentials medicines to some identified communities.  We still maintain, that had we properly resourced our medical stores with these essential medicines, we would be making peripheral use of drones.

A recent news story, ‘’10 die from receiving ineffective anti-snake vaccine’’ referenced (https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/10-die-from-receiving-ineffective-anti-snake-vaccine-717971) that had been shared widely in the last two weeks confirms our concerns. The following paragraph in the web linked story reads;

"He said that anti-snake vaccines are supposed to be supplied by the regional medical stores of the Ghana Health Service but they have received none for some time now, and as a result they always ask patients to buy some from pharmacy shops which cost between 250 and 400 cedis."

However, the thrust of our letter is not about the absence or otherwise of befitting infrastructure to receive essential medicines like anti-snake serum, but rather the morbid fear that when critical medicines amidst all the avoidable hurdles have eventually been supplied, they are substandard or fakes.  It is worse when these fake medicines have been procured through fraud with official blessings.  Such appears to be the case of a story involving the procurement of anti-snake serum by your ministry.  We are by this letter asking you to clarify the following questions for the public.

1.      We have been informed that as far back as August, 2018 there was an “International competitive tender” for the supply of 50,000 units of anti-snake serum.  We have read allegations about your ministry’s involvement in bid evaluation rigging and overly intrusive interventions in the tender process.  What is your version of this account?

2.      We have been informed that these allegations truncated the approvals you sought from the Central Tender Review Committee and the Public Procurement Authority (PPA). Both institutions officially wrote to you not to proceed with the tender pending their investigations.  What is the status of this public tender?

3.      Our further information is that because of the shortage of the serum in Ghana you have applied to the PPA for permission to import on emergency basis 20,000 units of a serum, which we understand covers your requirements for a year. Is this correct?

4.      We equally understand from records that, you are seeking permission for sole sourcing form the PPA to import from the same company which was alleged to have skewed tender documents and which caused the other bidders to protest.  Isn’t this request showing your DISREGARD for the outcome of PPA’s enquiry?

5.      Isn’t it the case that the World Health Organisation has concerns about the efficacy of the anti-snake serum the company you are reported to have requested through sole sourcing, to supply Ghana with the serum?

6.      Isn’t this same company, which you are requesting to be allowed to supply anti-snake serum to Ghana, on record to have supplied the Ministry/ Ghana with anti-rabies drug which has been locked up in the Ministry’s warehouse because neither Food and Drug Authority nor Noguchi has approved its effectiveness to be used in Ghana?

We will be grateful for responses in order to assure the general public that the Ministry of Health is not abusing the duty of care and protection its mandate imposes on it. 

As always we remain at your service.

Sincerely,

Franklin Cudjoe (signed)

On behalf of Ghana.

 

Cc: Hon. Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu (Dep. Minister MoH

Chief Director, MoH

Dr. Nsiah-Asare (DG, Ghana Health Service)

Mr. Charles Taylor (Chairman Central Tender Review Committee)

Ghana Medical Association

CHRAJ, GACC, GII, Media, MFWA

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