The former president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Prof. Alex Dodoo, is to be dragged before the Privileges Committee of Parliament for making contemptuous comments against the House.
Prof. Dodoo, an associate Professor in Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Ghana Medical School, was alleged to have denigrated the House in the media for raising concerns over the Ebola vaccine trial intended to be undertaken in the Volta Region.
The Speaker, Edward Adjaho, who has not referred anyone to the Privileges Committee of the House since he became Speaker, urged the committee to hound the professor before it.
“We are not experts, but we pass the law and everything we do, we fall on experts. We did the same with the Plant Breeders Bill,” he said, and added that the concerns raised by the members had also been observed by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He wondered why Prof Dodoo could use harsh words like “ignorant” to describe the Legislature for raising concerns which had been shared by eminent scientists at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Mr. Adjaho disclosed that some members had even met him to discuss the possibility of passing a bill under a Certificate of Urgency to restrict some of the powers of the Food and Drugs Authority, so that the Health Ministry could have full responsibility for the Authority.
The Majority Leader, Alban Bagbin, commenting on the issue, said, “I heard the reaction of Prof. Alex Dodoo. It is sad that he did not have sufficient information in approvals and trials of vaccination, but decided to take Parliament on”.
“I do not think Parliament did anything wrong. Prof Alex Dodoo should be brought before the House to be properly informed about what happens here. Parliament is not made up of individuals; it is made up of various professionals. The collective wisdom of the House is what is usually taken, before the Speaker makes an order.”
On why Ghana has been selected for the Ebola vaccine trials, Mr. Bagbin suggested that it would be better for the trial to be conducted in countries where the disease was prevalent to determine the efficacy of the vaccine.
“In any case, if the scientists believe in what they have produced, they should be bold enough and offer themselves for the trial. I want Prof Alex Dodoo to be the first to take the test, and I will follow. I am prepared to take the test with him,” he said.
The Majority Leader added: “indeed, Prof Dodoo had the audacity to question the order given by the minister to suspend the trial. I cannot say he is ignorant as he described this House. I can only say that he lacks information. Parliament will drag him to the Privileges Committee to make him understand what we do here, and make him a worthy ambassador of what we do here”.
The Second Deputy Speaker, Joe Ghartey, said Parliament had every right to raise concerns on the issue, and invite the minister to come and brief the House.
“Assume for the sake of argument, that we are ignorant, does it mean that we do not have the right to speak? We may not be experts in the area, but the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences which has the best scientists in the country, has raised similar concerns. We must be proud of what we did. We should continue to speak on matters that are of importance to the public. We should not be stopped by such criticisms,” he said.
The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu, could not phantom why the trial was conducted in Ghana, even though there was no evidence of the disease in the country.
“We do not have Ebola; we do not have any evidence; what are we using the trial for? What trial are we undertaking? And on who?” he asked.
The Members of Parliament for Ho West and Manhyia South, Emmanuel Bedzrah and Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, respectively, supported the call for Prof. Dodoo to be dragged before the Privileges Committee over his alleged comments.
By Yaw Kyei