Drone Saga: Health Service boss discredits IMANI figures

The Director General of the Ghana Health Service has described as inaccurate figures provided by policy think tank IMANI Africa on the drone health delivery system.

According to Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the IMANI figures are not a true reflection of expenses incurred in a typical Ghanaian health facility.

Speaking on Joy FM’s news analysis programme, the Director General challenged the policy think tank to make public the source of its figures.

“I can say emphatically here that the calculation he (IMANI) is giving is not correct. He should go to the Ghana Blood transfusion services and get his calculation right. Giving blood and doing the test is not $12 equivalent. It is not true,” he challenged.

He was responding to an IMANI statement on the drone health delivery services which sought to discredit the drone innovation in Ghana.

In a piece written by IMANI and titled “novelty is not innovation- the story of Fly Zipline Ghana,” the policy think tank suggested a more cheaper alternative in van deliveries could have been considered.

“Using the van delivery mechanism, we describe in this alert, the full cost per 2kg of blood (4 pints) delivered to a patient from a facility within an 80km radius comes to $0.75. The “drone premium” is thus nearly $18 per blood bag, a cost higher than the retail price of one pint of blood in those Ghanaian facilities where blood is sold.

“The cost of collection, screening and storage of blood in the current Ghanaian health system is currently estimated at $12 a bag. The effect of the drone premium would be to increase this to $32 on average, a nearly 270% increase. Contrast this with a road-based hub-and-spoke model that would add a maximum of $2 with minimal loss of speed in delivery,” the policy think tank said.

But the Ghana Health Service has disputed the claims and the figures by IMANI.

“I don’t know where IMANI got all these calculations from,” Dr Nsiah-Asare said.

He said apart from the cost of blood, it cost at least ¢100 for a simple blood test to be done and wondered where the IMANI figure of 75 cents came from.

“If they are doing these calculations they should tell us the source of the figures.”

He added even if one were to travel from Begoro to Accra to access blood to be given to a sick patient, the transport alone to travel to Accra is higher than the figure being bandied about by IMANI.

For a think tank, that believes so much in ICT, Dr Nsiah Asare wondered why IMANI would be kicking against an innovation that will allow the use of technology in health delivery services in Ghana.

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