Former Health Minister, Alex Segbefia is charging the President Akufo-Addo government to bring a closure to the fire incident at the Central Medical Stores by ensuring the prosecution of perpetrators.
Ghana lost its main drugs and medical supplies depot on January 13, 2015, but government is yet to prosecute some 12 persons found culpable following investigations into the fire that razed the Tema Central Medical Stores (CMS).
The uninsured CMS which contained every conceivable drug imported into the country including drugs for deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and Ebola was estimated to be over GHS263million.
The 12 were officers of the CMS identified by National Security as being part of a network responsible for the systemic theft of large quantities of medical supplies and irregularities in the procurement and allocations to health institutions.
A popular view is that the fire was a sinister work of some officials in Ghana’s medical supply chain who wanted to prevent exposure after some dubious procurement deals.
The heads of the Malaria Control Programme were suspected of having a hand in the fire and were subsequently interdicted with the Bureau of National Investigations.
A year after the incident, the then Attorney-General, Marietta Brew-Appiah Oppong revealed the CMS was intentionally set on fire.
“To destroy evidence of theft, massive fraud and widespread irregularities in the distribution and supply of medical supplies involving senior management and junior staff, it is believed Samuel Dogbe was paid to set the fire in order to destroy the evidence,” she said.
Mr Dogbe, a labourer at the Central Medical Stores, the suspected arsonist was at the time on the run. His whereabouts are still yet to be known.
The report cited some individuals as being part of a network at Stores responsible for the systemic theft of medical supplies and recommended their prosecution.
They are Peter Ekow Gyimah, Former Head of CMS; Alhaji Yusif Inua, Member of the Interim Management Committee of the CMS; Iddrisu Abdul-Karim, Acting Head of the CMS; Gifty Esi Mankartha, Principal Pharmacist/Warehouse Manager.
The other are Zeboat Doh, Warehouse Manager; Ibrahim Laryeah Amartey, Line Warehouse Manager/General Pharmaceuticals Unit; Kwame Foli, Warehouse Manager and Mathias Senaya, Warehouse Manager/General Pharmaceuticals.
Victoria Anning, Senior Supply Officer/Project Stores; Abdul Karim, James Benjamin Annan, Pharmacist/System Analyst and Peter Atiba Addah, Storekeeper are also part of those to be prosecuted.
As the issue comes up for discussion again, Mr Segbefia assured that an audit should be undertaken to ensure interdictions and prosecutions.
Former Health Minister, Alex Segbefia
He told Joy News’ Elton John Brobbey when the information first came to the then A-G, she did not have enough information to prosecute.
“We only have citings of the reports and not the statements by those involved, so as far as I am concerned the CID or National Security based on the evidence they have should produce enough to give it to the Attorney General to mount a prosecution,” he said.
According to him, although Mr Dogbe is at large, there are areas which can be explored by the investigating authorities to know the motive behind the burning of the CMS, which he believes will give some clues.
He said the burning of the CMS gave Ghana such a bad image and he is, therefore, appealing to anyone who knows anything to volunteer information for the perpetrators to be prosecuted.
The new government has been criticised by the US Ambassador, Robert Johnson for failing to act decisively to bring closure to the fire incident, a situation he said, “has dealt a blow to our ability to support public health in Ghana.”
Some of the burnt drugs were medical supply worth $7 million donated by the American government.
But current Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang Manu has assured a forensic audit will soon be conducted into the report to determine the next step government ought to take.
However checks by JOYNEWS reveal efforts by government to prosecute those cited in the report may hit a snag as the Attorney General’s Department failed to get the needed evidence required to prosecute those involved.