The Ministry of Health has responded to the Auditor General’s latest report on government’s COVID-19 expenditure.
In the latest report, the Auditor General disclosed that the Ministry of Health on behalf of the Government of Ghana, paid an amount of $120,192,379.80 to UNICEF/AVAT for the supply of vaccines, however, 5,109,600.00 doses of vaccines valued at $38,322,000.00 were supplied to the National Cold Room leaving a difference of US$81,870,379.00 with UNICEF/AVAT.
The Auditor General thus recommended to the Chief Director of the Health Ministry to renegotiate and recover the outstanding balance. This, according to the Auditor General, must be done right way to ensure the amount is recovered to the state.
The Ministry, while acknowledging the delay in receiving the vaccines in its statement revealed that, government is yet to take hold of the products because of unexpected hesitancy, cold chain storage challenges, spontaneous donations, as well as manufacturer’s storage difficulties.
“Due to these unexpected factors, the Ministry in June 2022, was compelled to agree on a delivery schedule for the remaining 11,052 million doses to be delivered from June to December 2022. According to the schedule, 1.6 million doses were to be delivered from June to December 2022 to complete the allocation. However, this process was delayed because of the aforementioned challenges.”MOH
The Ministry assured that measures have been put in place to review the contract. “Currently, the Ministry requested and has received the June allocation which was delivered in January 2023. In the meantime, the Ministry continues to work with the AVAT for a possible review of the contract, and would want to assure the public of our commitment to work in the supreme interest of the public”, the statement noted.
We Paid Call Centre Operators And Critical Staff
Meanwhile, the management of the Ministry of Information has revealed that the GHC151,500 it has been directed by the Auditor General to refund was used to pay call centre operators and critical staff in the COVID period.
It would be recalled that during the height of the pandemic, the Information Ministry recalibrated the state-of-the-art National Information Contact Centre (NICC) as a 24/7 COVID-19 Call Centre and staffed it with personnel from the Ghana Health Service and emergency services. It served as an information dissemination hub on COVID for the general public as they requested assistance and guidance in the fight. The centre also collated data on the national COVID-19 effort.
In its audit of COVID-19 transactions, the auditor general indicated that the GHC151,500 was used on management and staff without approval in 2020 during the lockdown.
However, a response to the auditor general which was not captured in the final report noted that, the staff of the ministry were “operating under stressful and high-risk environment” which led to over four officials contracting the deadly coronavirus. “The fear of contracting the virus became a demotivating factor for officers to continue to give off their best under the circumstances. As you are aware, the ministry is in the business of providing relevant and timely information to save lives and as a result, we needed to motivate officers by way of small compensation for the risk they faced in working during the period of the pandemic,” the ministry’s response dated 14 December 2022 to the external auditors said.
“It would also be recalled that during the lockdown period, most staff of MDAs were made to sit at home as a way of curbing the spread of the disease whilst staff of the Ministry of Information were required to come to work by virtue of the special assignment given to the ministry by the President when he directed that the Ministry of Information should be the leader in risk communication and community engagement.
“Additionally, the ministry set up a 24-hour information desk at the digital centre, close to the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra where the general public was given the opportunity to call in and report COVID-19 related cases and also seek information in respect of the prevention and management of COVID-19 cases. It also served as a link between critically ill COVID-19 patients and the ambulance service for quick pick-ups. Management needed to whip up the interest of the desk officers and the supervisors to ensure that the centre continues to provide services to the public 24 hours a day.”Ministry Of Information