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General News of Saturday, 15 December 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Medical drones: Baako criticises lack of 'deliberate engagement' with GMA

Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper says it is unfortunate that the medical drones deal should generate controversy.

According to him, the only problem with the project is the lack of a broader stakeholder consultation prior to its approval by Parliament on December 11, 2018.

“I was taken aback when the Ghana Medical Association intervened with the point that they hadn’t been consulted. I was taken aback and I thought it was such an omission that was difficult to appreciate or justify."

“Even though they are not the implementing agency, they such a critical stakeholder,” he said Saturday on Joy FM/MultiTV news analysis programme, Newsfile.

'Suspend deal'

After enduring fierce opposition by the Minority legislators in Parliament, think tank, IMANI Africa and other groups, the agreement slipped narrowly through after Parliament, by a majority decision, approved it.

In a head count Tuesday, 102 legislators voted to approve the controversial policy, with 58 others dissenting.

The dissenting votes came from the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs.

Shortly after the deal was approved, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) called for its suspension because they had not been consulted before the $12.5 million deal was finalised.

This kick-started another round of controversy and debate.

Key debates about the deal borders on its cost and relevance.

The Minority, for instance, suggests that the Service Agreement hides charges that will cost the taxpayers twice the quoted cost of the entire 4-year project.

Some medical doctors have said it makes no sense to deliver medical supplies to health facilities that have no personnel -- a point that highlights the problem of a lack of health personnel at health facilities located in remote parts of Ghana.

Defence

However, defending the deal Mr Baako said after listening to more of the debates and exchanges and having assessed documents on the deal, he is convinced that the deal is “in order”.

“My understanding is that this is not a substitute for the regular supply line chain in terms of medical supply. It is not meant to be a substitute.

“It is meant to complement. Especially within the context of emergency supplies. If you have a situation where there is a stock out, shortage or some drugs in a particular centre has expired, this can be activated to help cure that situation. It makes sense to me. Especially when we still know that our health infrastructure is not where we want it,” he stressed on Newsfile.

He said deliberate distortions introduced in the debate on the agreement made it difficult for informed discussions.

However, with the deal getting the green light of the Legislature, USA-based Zipline International Inc, in partnership with the Ghana Health Service, will next year begin to use the unmanned aircraft systems to deliver essential health care products to hospitals and other health facilities in the country.

This makes Ghana the only country in the West African sub-region currently using the technology to improve health service delivery.