No rigging in anti-snake serum procurement – MoH replies IMANI

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has denied an allegation that it was involved in bid evaluation rigging and overly made intrusive interventions in the procurement of anti-snake serum...


The Ministry of Health (MoH) has denied an allegation that it was involved in bid evaluation rigging and overly made intrusive interventions in the procurement of anti-snake serum.

A letter by Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu in response to some six questions posed to him on the subject by think tank IMANI Africa denied any rigging in the procurement process of the anti-snake serum.

The think tank raised the questions after reports of deaths as a result of the use of ineffective anti-snake serum emerged.

“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,” IMANI’s founding president Franklin Cudjoe stated in the letter dated 8 February 2019.

Below is the ministry’s full response:

THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
IMANI CENTRE POLICY & EDUCATION
GHANA

February 12, 2019

Dear Sir,

RE: OF INEFFECTIVE ANTI-SNAKE SERUM, PROCUREMENT BREACHES AND PUBLIC HEALTH SAFETY CONCERNS – SIX QUESTION SEEKING ANSWER

I write to acknowledge receipt of your email on the above subject matter dated 8th February 2019 and wish I wish to respond as follows:

QUESTION 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?”

ANSWER: I will like to explain that there was no bid evaluation rigging as alleged in your letter. In accordance with the provisions of the Tender documents, clause 30(1) and also section 57 of the Public Procurement Act 663 as Amended (Act 914). A letter was written to two of the tenderers for the correction of arithmetic errors, which was detected during the evaluation process. There was no attempt to give the two tenderers competitive advantage. I will like to state emphatically that the correction of error did not result in any change of unit price. The error detected during the evaluation was that the tenderers should have multiplied the unit price by the pack size and the quantity required. They, however, multiplied the unit price by the quantity and left out the pack size, which resulted in an error in their total bid price.

QUESTION 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?”

ANSWER: Please note that PPA does not give approval to tender evaluation reports, it is only the Central Tender review committee (CTRC) that does so. The MOH sought and received approval from the CTRC. It was after a tenderer submitted a complaint to both the CTRC and the PPA that they wrote to the MOH and advised that the tender is placed on hold till PPA investigates the allegations. Based on the letters received, the Ministry of Health has cancelled the tender. This has been communicated to all the six firms that participated in the tender. This is to allow the PPA complete investigations into the allegations.

QUESTION 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?”

ANSWER: I wish to confirm that, the Ministry of Health (MOH) applied to the PPA for permission to import on an emergency basis 20,000 vials. Please note the annual requirement of MOH for the snake serum is 50,000 vials and not 20,000 vials as indicated in your email.

QUESTION 4: “We equally understand from records that, you are seeking permission for sole sourcing from 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?”

ANSWER: The Ministry of Health has completely run out of stock of the Anti-Snake Serum and therefore sought PPA approval to procure 20,000 vials from the last supplier of same as a stop-gap measure. It was never intended to disregard the outcome of the PPA’s enquiry and that is why the MOH wrote to PPA to seek approval. PPA upon receipt of our request sought its council decision and advised the MOH to hold on until investigations are completed. Even so, the MOH still persisted and has presently agreed with the PPA, in principle, to seek the help of World Health Organization (WHO) to procure the Anti-snake serum from whatever approved source available.

QUESTION 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?”

ANSWER: It is not true that WHO has concerns with the efficacy of the Anti-Snake Serum from the company in question. There is no documentary evidence to prove this.

QUESTION 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?”

ANSWER: The only issue with the Anti-Rabies supplied by the company has to do with the moisture content. This may or may not affect the efficacy or the potency of the vaccine. Even so, the Ministry requested the company to replace the entire quantity. The company replaced the entire quantity procured, which was approved by the Food and Drugs Authority and has since been used without any problems.

Yours faithfully,

KWAKU AGYEMAN-MANU

HON.MINISTER OF HEALTH

Source: Ghana/ClassFMOnline.com/91.3FM



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