Health Minister vindicated after parliamentary probe
As the media, Parliament and general public take the Minister of Health Kwaku Agyeman-Manu to the cleanest on the procurement of Sputnik V Vaccine, one may be wondering if we are really not getting the focus, timing and motive wrong.
After the Covid-19 spread across the world, scientist and laboratory technicians started finding ways to come out with a vaccine to fight this deadly disease. In this spirit various vaccines were developed across the globe to curb the spread of the virus.
The developed world rightly so started funding vaccine production and monopolized the access to the vaccines. They are still vaccinating their population, now vaccinating adolescents and soon will be giving booster doses.
Meanwhile, majority of the underdeveloped and developing countries especially in Africa are finding it difficult to get access to purchase these vaccines. The monopolization of covid-19 vaccines has made purchasing through the normal channels very difficult, the vaccines are just not available. The WHO, AU, COVAX, Donors etc do not even have easy access.
The Sub Sahara Africa remains the region with the lowest level of vaccination and Ghana lags behind only South Africa in absolute number of people vaccinated. The science is showing that what will save the world will be the percentage of the population vaccinated.
Russia was the only country that was making its vaccine commercially available beyond government to government supply chain routes and now they are not selling again due to their focus on vaccinating their own people.
Even as we speak through the effort of this vulnerable Minister, refrigerators and other storage, lab equipment have been procured by government and are being distributed to various health facilities across the country awaiting the arrival of the millions of vaccines that have been arranged through these bilateral arrangements.
The big question
With these realities what should be the priority of a government and its Minister of Health:
1. Get registered life saving vaccines from any credible sources or
2. Wait till the normal bilateral channels are able to get enough vaccines for donor driven SSA?
The answer is debatable but every country or government is choosing saving the lives of their citizens over administrative procedures such as sole sourcing verses open tender. And is there any way a third party is really expected to supply at no profit?
After calling for the head of the Health Minister, a parliamentary committee chaired by Hon. Alexander Afenyo-Markin was commissioned to investigate the agreement entered between the Ministry of Health and Sheikh Ahmed Al-MAKTOUM.
After hearing from the Minister the committee came out with its findings and made recommendations which included that:
1. On issues of Article 181(5) of the constitution that, in the future any such transaction whether local or international should be subjected to broader stakeholder consultations and should be take through due process of law including parliamentary approval to avoid negative reaction.
2. On issues relating to the procurement process that it may apply for ratification under section 89(1) for further investigation.
The Minister needs the support of all Ghanaians at this time, as delta variant is ravaging other parts of the world and is finally in the country, to look for credible vaccines no matter where they are as long as the price is affordable.
Israel bought Pfizer vaccines at a higher price to guarantee access and they remain the country with the highest vaccination rate.
In no part of the report of the committee did they say that the Minister should be sacked, impeached or resign. So it would therefore be malicious and mischievous on the part of any person to conclude that the Minister should be sacked.
The arrival of the Refrigerators, ice pack, land cruisers and other laboratory equipment is gradually vindicating the Health minister and very soon the vaccine will arrive to finally tell the Public how hard, helpful and forceful our Health Minister has been during this COVID-19 pandemic.
If other African countries are finding it difficult to even get middle men to purchase the vaccines at higher prices, whilst Ghana has gotten same quality vaccines at cheaper price, why must we hang our unsung hero to the cleaners? Or is it the case that some people are so hungry for his position that they will stop at nothing to get him out of office?
Source: africaneditors.com/Nana Kwame