Covid-19 vaccine: Agyeman Manu prioritized health and safety of Ghanaians- Group
A youth group calling itself Patriotic Youth Advocates (PYA) has gone to the defence of the Heath Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, stressing that his decision not to seek parliamentary approval in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines was because he prioritised health and safety of Ghanaians over procedural measures.
Mr Agyeman Manu has come under fire for not seeking parliamentary approval for the contract with Sheikh Maktoum to procure Covid-19 vaccines.
Answering questions before the bi-partisan parliamentary committee probing the controversial Sputnik-V vaccine procurement, Mr Agyeman Manu conceded but with valid reasons that he failed to seek cabinet and parliamentary approvals before engaging a private individual for the procurement of Sputnik-V vaccines for managing Ghana’s Covid-19 cases.
However, he argued forcefully and convincingly that urgent and critical nature of the circumstances at the time compelled him to sidestep the parliamentary procedure.
He further added that the death rates at the time saw the urgent need for the procurement of the vaccines.
“I was in a desperate and helpless situation with the management of the Covid numbers. In February [this year], we had 78 deaths; by March, we had 56 deaths, and these were the numbers that pushed me to act.
“…if you were the Health Minister, I think you might have taken certain decisions that in hindsight you may not have done those things. The country was not in normal times.
“…this was the environment I found myself in and out of desperation, frustration, and so many things,” he lamented.
Mr Agyeman Manu, however, said even though the total supply of 20,000 doses of the Sputnik-V vaccines were supplied to the country, the suppliers have not been given any money.
The minister’s explanation, however, has not gone down well with some people, who believe he must resign because he broke the rules by not seeking parliamentary approval.
A statement signed by leaders of the group, Nana Kwasi and Asante Kwadwo, said the minister meant well with testimony at the committee probing the matter.
They pointed out that in all his dealings with the Sheikh Maktoum group, the health minister was guided by the ethics of his office to secure the lives of Ghanaian citizens first from the marauding virus.
The group recounted several measures and far-reaching initiatives the health minister, since assumption office in 2017, has been engaged in.
According to the group, in 2017, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) owed hospitals and service providers on the scheme 13 months of arrears.
Currently, the group noted the NHIA only owes 4 months of arrears to service providers.
Mr Agyeman Manu, the group noted, worked to restore the nurses training allowance which had been cancelled by the previous NDC government.
The group said the excellent negotiation skills of Mr Agyeman Manu has reversed doctors and nurses’ agitations and strike actions compared to the previous NDC administration.
The group commended the sector minister for what it claimed as the smooth running of the NHIS system and the deployment of technology for instant renewals and payments.