Ghana is yet to receive 26 ambulances valued at $4 million which it ordered to support COVID-19 management, an Auditor-General’s report on the country’s COVID-19 expenditure has revealed.
The report, covering the period March 2020 to June 2022, revealed that the Ministry of Health signed a contract on December 15, 2021 for the supply of the Toyota Hiace Deluxe ambulances.
Out of the total cost of $4,049,460.12, the document said $607,419.02 was paid for the vehicles to be delivered by January 15, 2022, but they remained undelivered as of November 28, 2022.
It said the Chief Director of the Ministry attributed the delay to a request made by the unnamed supplier for extension to enable the supplier to meet some technical specifications.
Management, per the report, indicated that upon technical inspection by the World Bank, additional specifications were recommended and the contract had therefore been extended to March 2023.
It noted that “Under the current economic difficulties, the supplier could apply for price variation to unduly increase the cost of the contract which could have been avoided if the ambulances had been supplied as scheduled.”
The report, therefore, recommended that the Chief Director should ensure that the ambulances were delivered no further than the extended date of March 2023.
Amidst various infractions, it revealed that out of GH¢21,844,189,185.24 mobilised, GH¢11,750,683,059.11 was spent on COVID-19 activities and the rest on budget support.
According to the report, about 10.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines worth US$81.87 million have not been delivered to Ghana despite full payment to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT).
It said the Ministry of Health, on behalf of the government, paid an amount of US$120,192,379.80 to UNICEF/AVAT for the supply of 16,025,650 vaccines under an agreement in 2020.
However, it noted that 5,109,600.00 doses of vaccines valued at US$38,322,000.00 were supplied to the National Cold Room, resulting in an outstanding amount of US$81,870,379.80 with UNICEF/AVAT.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Health explained that the amount was paid in anticipation of receiving all the vaccines within a short space of time for vaccination in the country.
“However, unexpected vaccine donations into the country, coupled with limited vaccine storage capacity and the slow uptake by Ghanaians to be vaccinated, made it impossible to receive the Janssen vaccines that had been paid for,” the report said.
Based on the report’s recommendation that the Chief Director of the Ministry of Health should re-negotiate with UNICEF/AVAT to recover the outstanding amount, the Ministry said it had initiated a process of re-negotiation.
Medical equipment valued at US$110,088.00 and GH¢27,895.00 were issued to a private hospital by name Christleads and Specialist Hospital belonging to Dr. C. K. Amenuveve in Madina which did not serve as a COVID-19 isolation centre or did not receive any COVID-19 patient.
The items included patient monitors, oxygen tube for patient monitors, linen trolley, nebulizer sets, oxygen concentrators, oxygen nasal prongs, pulse oximeter desktops, suction machine and syringe pump.
It recommended that the Chief Director should immediately investigate the allocation to the hospital and report accordingly and asked that Dr Amenuveve should be made to pay for the equipment at the current cost, failing which the amount should be recovered from the Chief Director.
The report also revealed that 1,022,348 doses of vaccines received at the National Cold Room and issued to user facilities had expired at the various districts and regions.