GHS blasts minority over drone deal
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Services (GHS), Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, has refuted allegations by the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament that the contract sum for Fly Zipline Ghana Limited to airlift blood and essential drugs to remote health facilities using drones is too high.
The Minority, in debating the contract on Monday between the Ministry of Health and Zipline for the drones to deliver essential drugs to health facilities for parliamentary approval, raised questions about the cost of the contract, mode of contract and the legal consequences of regulatory approval.
The minority’s arguments prompted the first deputy speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, to defer the approval of the contract for further consultations.
But at a press conference in Parliament yesterday to refute allegations by the Minority, the Director-General of GHS, Dr Nsiah-Asare, said the contract is performance-based and that any payment to Zipline will be dependent on the magnitude of work and the satisfaction derived from it.
He told the press that the payment is not going to be done by the government but corporate organisations like Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and Tullow Oil Ghana as part of their corporate social responsibilities to the people of Ghana.
He said the GHS, through the Ministry of Health, is also talking to MTN to help in the funding for the contract as part of its corporate social responsibility.
Dr Nsiah-Asare maintained that the Ministry will pay $88,000 to Zipline per a distribution centre in a month and not the $145,000 wrongly quoted by the Minority in Parliament, adding that if in a month 15 deliveries are made, the Ministry will only pay $11,000 while 50 deliveries will attract a payment of $27,000.
“We will pay the full $88,000 when 100 or more deliveries are made by the company,” he said.
The Director-General also said that looking at the over 500 health facilities that the drones will be serving, the maximum cost that will be incurred at each health facility for the services will be $175, which is very reasonable.
He disclosed that it’s also not true the drones will be exported and the cost of one will be $1 million.
He indicated that the drones will continuously be built and assembled here in Ghana which will help give employment to engineers, flight operators and pharmacists.
He said the company will use Ghana as assembling point and also help transfer technology to the youth in tertiary institutions.
He also pointed out that it’s not true that there will be only four drones for the four distribution centres, stressing that at each distribution centre, there will be a minimum of 20 drones or a maximum of 50 drones which in effect means a total of maximum 200 drones would be deployed to distribute essential drugs.
He said for instance that Suhum has been selected as a distribution centre which will serve over 500 health centres across the whole of Eastern Region, Greater Accra Region, Volta Region and part of Central Region.
The Director-General of GHS said that it would be dangerous for the Minority to politicize health matters because pregnant women, who are in dire need of blood in the rural areas and Ghanaians being bitten by snakes in the rural areas, who need urgent anti-snake venom, may not have political colours and that when it comes to health matters, politics should be avoided for precious lives to be saved.