Politics of Wednesday, 19 December 2018
The president Nana Akufo-Addo has taken a jab at members of the opposition National Democratic Congress who have been vehement in their criticism of the drone deliveries for emergency health services.
According to him, the drone health service delivery which has been heavily criticized will serve over 14 million people and save human lives in the process, an investment he insisted was far better and important than the decision of his predecessor to invest in Guinea fowls under the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority.
“I prefer drones flying to deliver essential medicines to our people than an investment in guinea fowls that allegedly fly off to Burkina Faso without any trace,” he said, which is a direct attack on the record of ex-president John Mahama, under whose tenure the infamous guinea fowl scandal was recorded.
He was addressing journalists at the Flagstaff House in his second meet the press series in 2018.
The $15million contract signed with Zipline for the use of drones in delivering blood and other emergency health products to clinics, hospitals especially in rural areas has been the controversial issue in recent times.
The Minority in Parliament, think tanks like IMANI have been vehement in their criticism of the policy initiated by the government to help in the emergency health delivering.
The Minority spokesperson on Finance Cassiel Ato Forson described the policy as fraudulent, accusing the vice president of leading a policy that is purely criminal.
He alleged the government was buying a drone at a cost of $1 million when it is selling at $100,000.
According to him operators of Zipline would make over 600% interest in the “fraudulent” contract.
IMANI Africa has also raised issues about the cost of the operating the drone policy.
Its Executive Director Franklin Cudjoe insists the policy is too expensive and would rather opt for cheaper options.
If anything, the think tank would rather the policy is implemented on a pilot basis.
On the day the agreement of the drone policy was approved in Parliament, the Ghana Medical Association issued a statement calling for the suspension of the policy accusing government of failing to consult them.
They said the policy was not in sync with primary health care delivery system in the country.
But the Ghana Health Service has been in support of the policy.
Its boss Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare debunked claims by the minority that the government was purchasing drones at $1m.
He said the government was only paying for the services to be provided by drones and not to purchase at the outrageous prices mentioned by the Minority.
He argued the policy is only to augment emergency health delivery services across the country especially in rural areas.
In what is his first public comment on the matter, the president did not fail at jabbing his opponents who have been most critical of the policy.
“We are also in the process of launching the world’s largest and most advanced medical drone delivery network. The four (4) distribution centres, from where the drones will be operating, will stock one hundred and forty-eight (148) lifesaving and essential medical supplies, and not only blood. The drone delivery service will save lives, decrease wastage in the system, guarantee healthcare access for more than 14 million people nationwide, and employ over two hundred (200) Ghanaians.
According to him, the policy will not involve the use of public funds, explaining corporate institutions have committed to funding the it.