The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayokor Botchway has justified the decision by the government to use a middleman to procure Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine. It follows a barrage of criticisms from various quarters over the decision to procure the vaccines at twice the price from source.
Speaking at a press briefing today the Foreign Affairs minister said it was practically impossible to procure the vaccines from source due to increase in the demand.
“I had discussions with the Russian ambassador on Ghana’s desire to purchase vaccines from Russia actually it was not just Russia but we did so with the Chinese also with the Indians. Let’s put it in this context. It is difficult, extremely so, even if you have money to procure vaccines from the source, it is almost impossible, because just as Ghana is looking for vaccines to buy, all nations are also looking for vaccines to buy. And so it becomes quite difficult to get vaccines even from the source. But I can assure you that we made contacts and we still continue to pursue getting the vaccines. It has not been easy at all. Not just for Ghana but for any of our countries and not just for Africa but also for other countries around the world”.
She cited an example of how President Akufo-Addo and herself, had engaged relevant persons at their various levels to procure vaccines but to no avail
“And I will give you an example. The example of India, his Excellency the president actually made calls at his level. I made calls at my level apart from speaking to the High Commissioner, I made calls at my level, it was just impossible to get these vaccines”.
Speaking about the involvement of her ministry in procuring the vaccines, Madam Botchway said they were involved at the initial stages.
“Whether we were involved, yes, from the beginning we were involved but I can assure you that it is difficult to procure vaccines directly from manufacturers”.
Norwegian newspaper Vergens Gang broke the story about the Government of Ghana’s agreement to procure the Sputnik V vaccines from a businessman, Sheikh Dalmook Al Maktoum a unit price of $19 instead of $10.
A statement from the Health Ministry issued on Wednesday, June 9 said: “We were torn between accepting the price to enable us have access to the vaccine or facing the situation of the seller withdrawing from the negotiations, to the extent that the 15,000 doses that had been shipped to Ghana were going to be rerouted to other countries.”
The Minority in parliament has also called for the abrogation of the contract describing it as a rip off. But the Chairman of the Health Committee in Parliament says government is not being ripped off in any deal to procure Sputnik-V vaccines.