‘I had an obligation to protect lives’ – Health Minister justifies Sputnik-V deal

The Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has justified the government’s procurement of Sputnik-V vaccines despite concerns about the cost involved.

The government has come under intense pressure following its decision to use intermediaries to secure over three million Sputnik-V vaccines at a cost of 19 dollars instead of 10 dollars on the international market.

The Minister of Health has equally been taken on for the procurement, with the Minority threatening to drag him before Parliament for securing the vaccines at an above-standard price.

The Member of Parliament for Juaboso in the Western North Region, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, who is also the Ranking Member on the Health Committee of Parliament had said action would be taken because the Ministry’s justification for securing the vaccines at an above-standard price is unacceptable and very difficult to believe.

However, Mr. Agyeman-Manu, who was commenting publicly on the matter for the first time, said Ghana had no choice but to procure the vaccines at an overpriced value.

Speaking at the launch of the Pest and Vector Control Association of Ghana in Accra, the Minister further explained that the procurement was due to the second wave of COVID-19 which had already claimed many lives.

“I had an obligation to try to see how we can arrive at our herd immunity. When we started looking for vaccines to procure, intermediaries were not part of our agenda. We were looking at what we will get from COVAX. We could not have waited between March and August because we were in the second wave, and we were dying more than when we had the disease in 2020.”

“Basic economics will tell you that in terms of scarcity, the market is the suppliers’ market. He or she dictates the price, not the buyer. I am surprised. We all learned these things at O-level, so why should I be a subject of ridicule?” he asked.

Sack Agyeman-Manu
There have been calls for Mr. Agyeman-Manu to be dismissed since the news about the procurement came to the limelight.

A private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, has argued that the Minister has not shown prudence in the handling of the procurement of the Sputnik V vaccine for the national inoculation exercise.

He said the least the President can do is to sack him.

“He should know that Ghanaians are very vigilant; so this one, I think the Health Minister has been too sloppy and the least the President can do is to sack him. The President should know that we are very angry with what the Health Minister has done, he has not shown prudence at all and has also shown no sensitivity to how Ghanaians react to issues of money.”

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