It has been revealed that the Government of Ghana has contracted SL Global Limited to purchase five million doses of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine for Ghana at US$26 per dose for five months.
The supplier, according to a JoyNews report, was contracted by Ghana’s Ministry of Health with a Ghanaian company serving as the intermediary to deliver the vaccines in batches, thus, one million doses each month until the fifth month.
The agreement per the documents signed between the ministry and the suppliers states that the purchase will not include transportation, storage and other charges; thus, the cost is likely to rise.
“None of the seller or any of its connected persons shall be subjected to any liability under this agreement or otherwise for any losses suffered by the buyer or any person whatsoever including patients, resulting to the use of the product,” part of the agreement read.
The Health Ministry in a letter dated March 16, 2021, beseeched the Finance Ministry to support it raise $130 million to be used to pay for COVID-19 vaccines which were being procured through some third parties.
The latest revelation comes on the back of a Norwegian newspaper investigation that accused the government of Ghana of buying the Sputnik V vaccine for US$19 per dose from businessmen instead of US$10.
In the report, the Government of Ghana signed a contract for the purchase of the Sputnik-V vaccine with an Emirati official who is said to have been involved in the controversial Ameri power deal and a Norwegian citizen charged with money laundering in Norway.
Verden Gang (VG) in its report said Ghana has signed the purchase contract for 3.4 million doses of the vaccine after it received an initial 16,000 doses from two businessmen on March 3, 2021.
“It is March 3, and the moment of truth for Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu (65). A flight from the Emirates is taxiing to the terminal in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where the Minister of Health is waiting. Out step two men: One is a Sheikh and second cousin of the ruler of Dubai. The other has been on the run from Norwegian police for years.
“Boxes containing a total of 16,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V are unloaded from the plane and placed in front of the Minister of Health. Six days later, the Ministry of Health in Ghana signs an agreement with the Sheikh. They announce that they have reached an agreement regarding the purchase of 3.4 million vaccine doses. No price is publicly disclosed,” parts of the report read.
When VG contacted the Ministry of Health to respond to the story, “a group of bureaucrats” told the newspaper that their job was to pay at the end of the day after the contract had been signed.
In response, Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister told VG that “I don’t know. You know, you are confronted with ‘the good guys’ from the West not giving you any assurances of supply [of vaccines], and you have 30 million people and are to save lives.
“You know, it’s easy to sit somewhere else and say: Why are you doing this? But you need to make sure you protect your people. You manage that as well as you can. This is all a contrived and manufactured crisis because clearly there are enough [vaccines] to go around if only there was equity and justice in what we are doing.”
The Minority in Parliament on the back of VG’s report has called for a thorough investigation into the matter indicating that the pricing of the product is a rip off to the country.
But the Government of Ghana in a statement defended the transaction and indicated that it rather successfully negotiated downwards the price of the Sputnik V vaccine from a higher price.
The Health Ministry said the US$19 price is a result of the government’s direct negotiation with a businessman rather than seeking to obtain the vaccines on a government-to-government basis which is cheaper yet difficult to push through.
On his part, Dr Nana Ayew Afriyie, Chairman of Parliamentary Health Committee said, the government has not been swindled in the deal to procure the Sputnik-V vaccine.
He argues “We have not been swindled as a State. Even though we are in a desperate state to get vaccines, the policy of the government which is a very good one is to get business persons to go into the Sputnik-V space.
“Yes, the factory price is US$10, but when you get expatriates, and it gets out of the factory, there are a lot of factors that come in, including the profit, commission and freight to Ghana. So, you don’t expect a vaccine that costs US$10 at the factory to be the same price when it arrives in Ghana, especially when a middleman is getting it.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned the government against engaging middlemen in the purchase of vaccines for its citizens.
“We have received similar concerns regarding other vaccines with intermediates selling it at a much higher price than what the manufacturers are selling it. There is a lot of substandard and falsified Covid-19 products being commercialized out there. So contact the manufacturers to make sure that the intermediate is legal.”