Medical stores fire disaster--Cost of damage in the region of GHc 237m: No insurance cover (front)

The fire outbreak that consumed medical supplies at the Central Medical Stores (CMS) of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in Tema has been estimated to cost the country about GHc237.7 million.

Even worse is the fact that the facility was not insured to recoup the loss.

Investigations

While declining to make a definite statement on whether the Ministry of Health suspected arson, the sector Minister, Dr Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, told journalists in Accra that the ministry had asked the National Security to initiate a full-scale investigation into the fire outbreak.

“This investigation, together with the investigation that the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) is undertaking, will inform us as to what happened,” he said.

He gave an assurance that the ministry would follow the incident to its logical conclusion and anybody found culpable in the incident would be made to face the full rigours of the law.

The Health Minister said prior to the fire outbreak, a committee had been instituted by the ministry to look into how the CMS could be run effectively.

He indicated that the committee had found some malpractices, including medical supplies being sent out of the stores without documentation, while some supplies never reached their intended destinations.
Dr Agyemang-Mensah, however, said he could not link the findings of the said committee to the fire outbreak until the incident had been fully investigated.

Incident won’t affect health care


The damage caused by the inferno notwithstanding, he said, the incident would not affect healthcare delivery in hospitals because all the Regional Medical Stores had enough stock that could last for two to three months.

“Let me use this opportunity to allay the fears of Ghanaians that this will not in any way affect drug supply,” he said.

The CMS renders a number of services to assist healthcare institutions. It forecasts the medicine and non-medicine commodity needs of the country to procure supplies in a timely manner and efficiently distributes them to regional medical stores and health institutions in order to meet the needs of clients.
It also monitors the utilisation of these supplies in order to minimise wastage in the process.

The CMS usually has 12-month stock levels generally held for each commodity nationally, six-month stock held at the regional medical stores and three-month stock at the service delivery point.

Among the drugs the minister said were lost in the conflagration were essential medicines, medical consumables, medical equipment, HIV/AIDS medicines and test kits, anti-malaria medicines/test kits, TB medicines, insecticide treated bed nets, condoms, Ebola protective equipment and relief food items.

An official of the ministry indicated that most of the Ebola protective equipment had already been dispatched to the healthcare facilities but the reserves left in the stores were those consumed.

Contingency measures

As part of the contingency measures to deal with the situation, Dr Agyemang-Mensah said the ministry would contact some of the local pharmaceutical suppliers and international drug supply chain to ship in new drug consignments and other medical suppliers, after discussions with the country’s development partners.

 He said the ministry had directed that plans should be put in place for all regional stores to be insured as a matter of  urgency.

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

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