… National Security to investigate it

Dr.Kweku Agyemang MensahThe Ministry of Health has asked the National Security to investigate the fire outbreak at the Central Medical Stores at Tema, on Tuesday.

The probe, together that one being undertaken by the Ghana National Fire Service, will enable the authorities to unravel the actual cause of the inferno.

Dr. Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, the sector minister, who made this known at a press briefing on the fire outbreak in Accra yesterday, warned that any- body found culpable after the investigations, would face the full rigours of the law.

Asked whether the ministry suspected any foul play, he responded: “For now, I can’t tell whether it is arson, let’s wait for the security agencies to conduct their investigations.”

Dr. Agyemang-Mensah intimated however, that a committee established by the ministry earlier to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the CMS, detected on January 7, that some commodities were shipped out of the CMS without proper documentation.

He said some of the commodities were supposedly shipped out, but it turned out later that the commodities did not get to their destinations. “So as I have said, we are waiting for the investigations,” the minister stressed.

The press briefing dwelt on stop-gap measures the government was taking to mitigate the impact of the inferno, and the extent of damage caused by the incident, which the minister said costs an estimated GH¢237, 798, 077.

A raging fire on Tuesday, razed down the Central Medical Stores (CMS) at Tema, destroying essential medicines, medical consumables, Ebola protective equipment, insecticide -treated bednets, anti-malaria medicines, condoms, HIV/AIDS medicines and test kits.

The CMS accurately forecasts the medicine and non- medicine commodity needs of the country, in order to procure supplies in a timely manner and efficiently distribute them to the regional medical stores and other healthcare institutions.

Notwithstanding the inferno, Dr. Agyemang-Mensah maintained that healthcare delivery in the hospitals would not be affected, as all the regional medical stores had enough stock that could last for three months.

The Minister explained that the CMS usually had 12 months stock levels generally held for each commodity nationally, six months stock held at the regional medical stores and three months stock at the service delivery points.

He announced that the ministry would contact local pharmaceutical suppliers and international drug supply chains to ship in new drug consignments and other medical supplies, prior to discussions with the country’s development partners.

“The ministry has put in place a temporary warehouse to be able to store supplies that are in transit to supplement those at the regional stores,” he added.

Responding to concerns about the destruction of protective gear meant to help combat an Ebola outbreak, the minister allayed the fears of Ghanaians, saying that Ebola protective equipment had been distributed to the various Ebola centres established across the country.

He said those destroyed by the fire were the reserve stock, but gave the assurance that the ministry would find a replacement for it.

Dr. Agyemang-Mensah said he had issued directives for plans to be put in place to insure all regional medical stores.

As to why the CMS is not insured, Dr. Sylvester Anemana, Chief Director of the ministry, said: “It is not because we do not want to insure such buildings; it is due to the inadequacy of the budget.

“It is the same for all our estates; we are not able to insure all of them because of the inadequacy of our budget,” he stressed.

By Samuel Nuamah    

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