The Auditor-General is conducting a forensic audit of activities of the Central Medical Stores leading to the fire that destroyed the facility.
Almost three years after the incident, no one has been prosecuted or held liable despite suspicion of arson.
The incident, which occurred in 2015, caused the country to lose about 80 million dollars worth of medicines and medical supplies.Speaking at a Meet the Press series on Thursday, the Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, said government will take the needed action after the completion of the forensic audit.
“The CMS [Central Medical Stores] fire and investigation report has been submitted to the Auditor General upon his request. I think we were talking too much about Central Medical Stores – where is the report and why are we not responding.? So the Auditor General called for a copy of the report, and as we speak, he is finalizing due processes to conduct a forensic audit of the report, and when that is completed, he will advise and make recommendations and that is what government, I believe, will have no option than to implement.”
The Minister said the forensic audit was captured as part of recommendations made by the committee that investigated the fire in 2015.
“In the report that I saw, it was put in it that, there should be a forensic audit, and therefore without forensic audit, I don’t think much could be done. But he is taking his time to do open competitive bidding to select a consultant who will do that work, and that is causing us some little bit of delays, but I believe that very soon, that will come to conclusion.”
New Central Medical Store not insured
Meanwhile, in a rather bizarre revelation, the Chief Director at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Afisah Zakariah, has said the refurbished Medical Store has not been insured against any unfortunate incident.
“The place we are renting is not insured and insurance companies are feeling reluctant to insure it. However, the ministry is making efforts to acquire our own [place]. We will soon get our own central medical stores which definitely, we shall insure because we learnt bitter lessons from the event of the Central Medical Stores. We’ve written to all our agencies so that all regional medical stores could be insured and this has been done,” she added.
The Central Medical Store was razed in 2015, and preliminary investigations blamed it on arson.
In 2016, 12 officials of the Ghana Health Service who were accused of playing various roles in the arson were also interdicted, but the status of the case is not yet known.
Before the fire, there were reports that then Health Minister Dr. Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, had initiated investigations into allegations of corrupt practices at the store.
UK Parliament worried over Central Medical Store fire
A former UK High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin, in June 2017, disclosed that the UK Parliament was concerned about the Central Medical Stores fire.
According to him, the UK pumped about 4 million pounds worth of medicines into Ghana, which were destroyed in the fire, hence the UK Parliament’s seeming interest in the case.
“In the Central Medical stores, there were 4 million pounds worth of medicines bought by the UK through our DFID programme that were there and were destroyed and we had to account for that money and questions were asked in the UK Parliament. So we had to say what had happened and what was being done about it. So I think that was a legitimate reason for us to raise our concerns,” added Jon Benjamin.
By: Godwin A. Allotey & Naa K. Siaw-Marfo/citifmonline.com/Ghana