Health News of Wednesday, 1 January 2014
The Ministry of Health has submitted a report by a 7-member committee set up to investigate the importation and distribution of fake condoms to the Attorney Generals’ Department for advise.
The Committee, which was chaired by Professor Alex Dodoo, a Pharmacist and an Associate Professor in Clinical Pharmacology, was tasked with looking into how about 130 million pieces of the unregistered, fake 'Be Safe 'condoms got into the country through the Ministry.
The situation according to the sector Minister, Sherry Ayittey, has dented the country's image internationally.
She said her Ministry will be pushing for a refund from the suppliers as recommended by the Committee.
Explaining why the report was submitted to the Attorney General's Department, she said "there are legal issues and implications and as a government agency we need the Attorney General to help us recover our money.
"We've received a letter from the Global Fund, they are very happy with the report and they are sending down their own team to assist us implement the recommendations [of the report]," she added.
The substandard "Be Safe" condoms were purchased by the Ministry of Health with $6 million of Global Fund money into its Central Medical stores.
The Global Fund assists countries and institutions to fight HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Key among the committee's findings was that the processes used in the procurement of the condoms were faulty.
“Basically, from the procurement side, we had issues but the main implications are that health-wise anyone who has used any of the 18 million condoms may have had unsafe sex,” the Committee Chairman, Prof Dodoo, said in November 2013 after submitting the report to the Health Ministry.
The Committee blamed the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) for imposing a weaker regulatory regime on the public sector, leading to cases where unregistered products are imported.
“Implications are that there are issues of checks and balances in terms of quality assurance, in terms of procurement processes, in terms of deficiencies across the whole system. So I think there are very key ramifications that the Ministry of Health and others will have to address,” said United Nations Resident Coordinator Harmandip Ruby Sandhu-Rojon.
Top on the list of the committee's recommendations is a refund of the money used in purchasing the fake condoms.