Response from Ministry of Health is more damning than their silence – Akandoh

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The Ranking Member on Parliament’s Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh has expressed dissatisfaction with the Ministry of Health’s justification of government’s decision to purchase Covid-19 vaccines at almost double the market price.

“There is no justifiable reason why a vaccine, which is sold on the international market for $10, should be bought by Ghana at $19 per dose through middlemen,” he stated.

Mr Akandoh was reacting to a statement issued by the Ministry of Health on Monday in response to widespread criticism of the transaction. He was speaking in an interview with JoyNews during the Mid-Day News.

“The response from the Ministry of Health is more damming than their silence. Doesn’t it beat your imagination that the President of the country will come back and tell us that he was not successful in dealing with the Russian government? Somebody who was the former Foreign Minister and now the President of Ghana couldn’t establish contact with the Russian government in order to secure us this vaccine and that we have to resort to the black market?” he quizzed.

The Ministry of Health explained it its press release that the vaccines were bought at $19 price per dose because of government’s direct negotiation with a businessman rather than seeking to obtain the vaccines on a government to government basis, which is cheaper yet difficult to pull through.

According to the Ministry’s Chief Director, Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, his outfit successfully negotiated the price of the Sputnik V vaccine, downwards from $25 to $19, thus saved the country some money.

But the Juaboso legislator suspects foul play. He is of the opinion that some government officials maybe exploiting government’s commitment to achieving herd immunity against the disease through vaccination.

“There are a lot of questions to be answered. In their press statement, they have agreed that they were dealing with a particular ship and all the names that were mentioned in their press statement were foreigners. If indeed that is true, what it means is that they dealt with a foreign company, and if you sign any agreement with a foreign company, it is supposed to come back to Parliament, unless of course you dubiously duped the country in order to pursue this agenda.

Mr Akandoh also stated that the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned government against engaging suspicious middlemen in its bid to secure the vaccines.

“WHO has indicated clearly that any country that deals with intermediaries will have a higher risk of getting substandard vaccines. A risk the Akufo-Addo led administration placed the Ghanaian populace in, for failing to adhere to the directive.” he noted.

Meanwhile, barely a week after the expose by a Norwegian newspaper with regard to the imprudent nature of the Sputnik V transaction, the Health Ministry has contracted another supplier, S. L. Global Limited, to purchase five million doses of the drug at $26 per dose.

The Ghanaian owned company, serving as the intermediary, is to deliver the vaccines in batches; one million doses each month until the fifth month when the country would have had enough doses to continue with the vaccination exercise.