GMA demands suspension of drone health service deliveries
General News of Tuesday, 11 December 2018
Debate about the drones has been done mostly on political grounds
The implementation of the newly approved drone health delivery system has suffered a major setback with the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) calling for its suspension.
Barely hours after the policy was approved by Parliament, the implementation agency insists the drone policy is at variance with the primary health care delivery system in the country.
While the Association insists it is not against the use of technology in its service delivery it insists the drone delivery services are not a priority.
“The proposed services to be provided by the drones do not conform to the primary healthcare policy in Ghana where different levels of care have different capacities to perform specific functions.
“The use of drones without the necessary improvement in the human resource capacity will not inure to the benefit of the country in its quest to improve healthcare delivery,” The GMA said.
Government through the Ghana Health Service has purposed to introduce drones to deliver blood and other essential medical medicines to clinics, hospitals across the country especially in remote areas.
The contract signed with Fly Zipline will see four distribution centers sending blood and these medicines to hospitals on request within a time frame of 15-40 minutes.
The Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare who has been at the forefront in defending the policy has explained that the drone deliveries are just a way of introducing efficiency in the supply of blood and medical supplies systems across the country.
The Minority had alleged government was going to purchase drones at a cost of $1million each when it was selling at $100,000.
They also alleged government had sole-sourced a contract to a company when it could have opened up for competitive tendering.
The Minority spokesperson for Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson said per the $12 million contract signed with Fly Zipline, the company would be making over 600% profit at the taxpayers expense.
But Dr Nsiah-Asare debunked the claims. He said the government was not buying drones let alone to pay $1 million for one.
According to him, the government was only going to pay for the services to be delivered with the help of the drone.
“If the company [Fly Zipline] makes less than 15 deliveries there will be no payment. If it is from 15 to 50 deliveries they are paid $11,000 per month. If they deliver 150 deliveries per day they get $88,000 [per month],” he said.
He also explained the Zipline was sole-sourced because it is the only company into such drone deliveries of medical supplies and challenged the minority to name any other company into drone deliveries.
Policy think tank IMANI had also raised issues about the policy and questioned the prices involved in the drone deliveries but Dr Nsiah-Asare challenged the figures describing them as “inaccurate.”
After days of back and forth in Parliament, the policy was finally approved in a partisan 102 majority votes against 58 dissenting minority.
Just when the Majority members were tapping each other on the shoulders for a political job well done, a new hurdle has arisen.
The GMA insists the policy is counterproductive and must be withdrawn.
Deputy GMA president Titus Beyuo told Evans Mensah on Top Story they were not consulted.
According to him, there are 300 doctors at home who are yet to receive appointments because government claimed there is no money.
He did not understand how government will raise money to fund drone services when there are not enough trained personnel on the ground.
He argued for many of the remote areas where blood and essential medicines will be delivered by drones, there are no trained health professionals to administer those services.