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Global Fund threatens to sever ties with Ghana over delay in clearance of commodities at the port

3news has gathered that the Global Fund has expressed its displeasure with the ongoing situation regarding the non-clearance of its donor-funded essential health commodities at the country’s port for over a year.

The fund, at the just-ended World Health Summit in Geneva, sent a strong signal to the Ghanaian delegation made up of members of the parliamentary select committee, the Minister of Health, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, the CEO of the NHIA and members of the Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund Ghana, that it may sever ties with the country if the commodities are not cleared as a matter of urgency.

The delay in clearing the medications has been attributed to the government’s inability to provide funding to cover the costs of ECOWAS and African Union levies on the drugs.

These crucial commodities worth 40million dollars from the Global Fund, aimed at supporting HIV and Aids, TB, and Malaria programmes, have been sitting at the port since May last year, causing increasing concern, with some civil society organizations threatening to demonstrate.

Stakeholders for months have warned that the country may run out of antiretroviral and other critical medications. Checks already reveal the country is experiencing imminent shortages of TB and HIV drugs at health facilities. Concerns have also been rife, as Ghana risks not receiving further supplies of essential medical commodities if challenges in the clearance of donor commodities at the ports persist.

According to the interim Chairman of the Country Coordinating Mechanisms –CCM GH, Ernest Amoabeng Ortsin, the Global Fund has threatened to take a drastic decision.

“We have impressed upon government as hard as we can, but it appears government is just not listening or interested. And at this point, we just don’t know what to do again. Some will be expiring in the first quarter of 2025 so we are going to have a situation where a lot of the medication will go un-used. You are given medication, you don’t use them and when they expire, you still go back to the same donor and ask for money to dispose of them. It doesn’t speak well of us,” Mr Ortsin said.

He further explained that: “Since the establishment of the Global Fund in 2002, this is the first time they are experiencing such a situation, and they are very worried. So, they told the health minister that if the commodities are not cleared, they are going to sever ties with Ghana because they have run out of excuses to their Donors when they ask them about what is happening in Ghana”.

Though the government maintains the containers of drugs at the port have been cleared, the Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism says otherwise.

The Executive Secretary of the CCM Ghana, Samuel Hackman, explained that despite commitment by the Fund to support the government in any way to clear the commodities, there is a third-party agent that needs to be sorted before the clearance can be done.

“What we are told is that, after waiving the taxes there are some 7million 3rd party charges so we negotiated with the Global Fund for support, and they did and so the expectation was that it will trigger the clearing of the goods. The last meeting we had with the grant manager in Geneva, in his words, this is an existential issue and they are intending to sever relationships, but they are only hanging on because of the people of Ghana”.

Meanwhile, presidential Advisor on Health Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare has re-assured of the government’s commitment to clear the commodities at the port, though he is unable to give a timeline.

“It’s an unfortunate situation. We are still working on it. Because if you leave things at the port for long, it accrues demurrages that’s where the problem is. We are finding a solution to it. Anybody wo is listening to me that is supposed to do something about it should just sign the paper and lets just move on and clear the things from the port,” he said.

Source: 3news

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