Accra, Jan. 30, GNA - Administrative and operational lapses has been identified as one of the causes for the theft and massive fraud at the Central Medical Stores (CMS), which led to an outbreak of fire at the premises, destroying evidence.
Government has directed the Minister of Health, with the assistance of experts and consultants, to undertake a thorough re-organisation and restructuring of the CMS including its systems, operations and existing checks and balances, if any.
At a news conference in Accra on Friday, to throw light on the report, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Marietta-Brew-Appiah-Opong said the fraud in procurement and allocation to health institution and their imminent discovery by the planned investigation and audit provided the motive for the sponsorship of the arson.
According to the report the arsonist Samuel Dogbe, a labourer at CMS is currently at large and is been sought after by security agencies.
The report said the re-organisation and restructuring exercise should ensure that future supplies to CMS should be properly documented and stored; tight control measures should be adopted for monitoring allocation of supplies to outside bodies; and similar measures should be instituted for supplies belonging to outside organisations that store products at CMS.
The report recommended measures to minimise the incidence of the procurement of expired drugs and other medical items.
It said the submission of the Procurement Unit of the CMS to due diligence in the procurement of drugs, in line with the needs of medical stores, should be done to avoid excessive storage of particular drugs;
The report also recommended the supervision and control of inventory officers by heads of the CMS warehouses and the institution of schedule of delivery systems for the delivery of drugs;
It also called for the strengthening of the internal audit unit/regime of the CMS to ensure constant monitoring of transaction at CMS.
The re-assignment of the current management/middle level staff of the CMS, to enable a replacement of a new team of professional was also recommended.
Government was also tasked to direct the team working on the re-organisation and restructuring exercise to examine the possibility of decentralising the operations of the CMS, especially drug purchases, to the regional level in order to minimise the risk usually associated with such centralised operations and purchasing, and the type of loss that has occurred in this fire outbreak.
The report said the current location of the CMS Facility in an industrial zone is not the best and called for the need for a well-defined/organised security regime including the installation of electronic access control and monitoring devices as well-designed warehouses with fireproof strong rooms for the storage of vital/emergency drugs and well-equipped fire station.
The investigations established that the fire safety/prevention measure at CMS was evaluated by an expert company on April 14, 2014, and the company had established that the CMS had little fire-fighting capacity and was all times vulnerable to fire.
The specific vulnerabilities had been detailed out in their report to management, but no action was taken to improve the CMS fire-safety and prevention measures.
It said the Tema Metropolitan Assembly’s Public Health Department had on October 2, 2014, served a “notice of Abatement” under section 34 (1) of the Town Ordinance Cap. 86, warning the management of the CMS to stop accumulating and burning of refuse on the premises.
The notice said not only did the officer who received the “Notice of Abatement” ignore it but challenged the capacity of the Assembly’s inspectors to issue the Notice.
It however turned out, it was the incinerators on the premises of the CMS that appeared to have been used to start the fire the report and noted that Management instructions for action to be taken to stop the burning of refuse on the premises were ignored.
The following officers of CMS were found culpable for the various lapses in fire prevention measures at the CMS: Gifty Esi Mankartha – Principal Pharmacist/Warehouse Manager, Samuelson Tetteh – Head of Security and Harry Okwampah – Line Manager in charge of Information and Communication Technology.
Government has therefore directed the Minister of Health to take appropriate disciplinary action against them.
Government draws the attention of all state organisations to the following general recommendations on fire safety, contained in the report of the Chief Fire Officer of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), attached to the National Security’s investigation report and directs that they should be noted for strict compliance the report said.
“It must be an automatic requirement for warehouses to have sprinklers that will detect and extinguish fires before the arrival of the Ghana Fire Service; Fire Safety Officers should be employed in all major health institutions and warehouses to enable them advise management on fire safety precautions and protective measures.”
Due to the scarcity of water during such emergencies, boreholes must be installed or drilled at all state warehouses in future, to augment water for firefighting and urged warehouse owners and operators to seek expert guidance from the GNFS before and during the storage of hazardous materials, flammable liquids, solids and gases, explosives, oxidizers and other reactive materials.