Central Medical Stores Burnt

NATIONAL CRISIS is likely to occur in the country after wild fire yesterday completely razed down the Central Medical Stores, the main drug storage and supply outlet in Ghana which belongs to the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The situation caused thick dark smoke in the sky around the Tema Heavy Industrial Area and other parts of the metropolis as firefighters with Ghana Fire Service (GNFS) and staff at the medical stores fought to help put off the inferno.

The fire would have spread to other agencies nearby the Ministry of Health warehouse at the Heavy Industrial Area in Tema after it caught the Central Mechanical workshop also belonging to the ministry but for the timely intervention of the GNFS.

National Security personnel who were also at the scene did not relax in fighting the flames by engaging private water suppliers to help provide water as a result of water hydrants in the warehouse not functioning.

Information gathered by the DAILY GUIDE indicates that the fire started at 9:45 am at the disposal section of the store where uncertified and expired drugs are kept.

The fire quickly spread to engulf the general pharmacy department and the non-drugs store where items such as surgical equipment and test kits are kept before spreading quickly to UNICEF; the warehouse that houses drugs such Ebola, HIV/AIDS and others.

The fire moved on to raze down the warehouse where items received for World Food Programme (WFP) were held in reserve, destroying all the aforementioned properties on the line.

However, no casualty was recorded during the outbreak.

A total of 20 fire engines comprising the VALCO fire warden, Ghana Port and Harbour Authority (GPHA) fire team, Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) Fire Brigade, joined the GNFS team in bringing the situation under control.

The firemen, led by the Regional Fire Officer, Julius Kuunor, spent more than six hours in fighting the outbreak.

Firemen were marshalled from the Tema, National Headquarters, Ghana Army and other private fire fighting companies to support the situation.

Briefing newsmen about the incident, Dr Albert Brown-Gaisie, the Director In-charge of operations of the GNFS, said the cause of the outbreak was not immediately ascertained.

He disclosed that poor housekeeping coupled with unfavourable harmattan weather were major challenges which confronted the fire tenders, asking institutions in the industrial area to consult fire service personnel for technical advice when putting up structures.

The Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, who later arrived at the scene, expressed confidence and assured Ghanaians that there would be no shortage of drugs, mentioning that there are back-up supplies at various regional stores in the country.

The cost of the items destroyed by the fire, he said, could not be immediately assessed until investigations are completed.

 From Vincent Kubi, Tema

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