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FeaturesAblakwa writes: The GHS2.6 billion dubious, duplicative & deadly digitalization deals in...

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Ablakwa writes: The GHS2.6 billion dubious, duplicative & deadly digitalization deals in Ghana’s health sector – Part 1

Ghana’s health sector has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons.

A few months ago, 19 renal patients lost their lives at the Korle-Bu Renal Unit because government was unable to provide just GHS4million. The dialysis crisis has still not been resolved even as private companies like the First Sky Group come to the rescue.

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Doctors at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) have warned that all their dialysis machines except one and half have broken down without government intervention to replace them for several months.

KATH has been without a mammography machine to diagnose early signs of breast cancer for several years.

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Prominent chiefs and opinion leaders continue to agitate about their abandoned hospital projects — most of which were almost completed by 2016.

Not too long ago, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government could not provide childhood vaccines leading to a national emergency. Ghana had to fall on Nigeria for a bailout albeit under deceitful circumstances.

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Numerous government hospitals are lamenting the lack of critical medical equipment needed to save lives. If MRI machines at prestigious hospitals such as 37 and Ridge have broken down for months without resources to repair or replace them, then one can imagine the situation in less endowned facilities.

Indeed, former Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu told Parliament not too long ago that Ghana has only 4 functioning MRIs in government hospitals across the entire country.

Funding for President Akufo-Addo’s flagship Agenda 111 has remained a huge challenge as he repeatedly misses his completion deadlines since the peak of COVID-19.

Doctors, nurses, midwives and other health workers continue to agitate for better working conditions. The Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA) revealed this week that already some 6,000 nurses have left Ghana since August 2023 in search of the proverbial greener pastures.

The GRNMA President, Mrs. Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo left many Ghanaians further depressed when she revealed that many heroic nurses who put their lives at great risk on the frontlines of the covid war have still not received the package they were promised by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government.

Ghanaians are yet to recover from the tragedy at the Tema General Hospital NICU which occurred a few days ago when the hospital was subjected to DUMSOR. Apparently, the standby generator to protect babies on oxygen was faulty. One mother insists she lost her precious baby because of this national disgrace.

Health facilities which were hitherto exempted from ECG disconnections no longer enjoy that dispensation.

As a Member of Parliament, I have been compelled to rely on my external network to equip hospitals and establish a surgical block in my beloved constituency.

With this shambolic state of health care in Ghana, one wonders why the current Akufo-Addo/Bawumia-led government will ignore the priorities begging for urgent solutions, and rather be fixated on dubious, duplicative and deadly so-called digitalization initiatives at a heartless cost of GHS2.67billion?

To our utter shock, the National Health Insurance Authority has submitted a 2024 allocation formula to Parliament which mindlessly and unpatriotically prioritizes the following:

1. Biometric ID Cards and Authentication System — GHS405.74million (this is despite the billions we have already spent on Ghana Cards)

2. Management Information System — GHS343.92million

3. Capturing of Claims Data — GHS112million

4. Ministry of Health (Health Provider – E-Health Solution) — GHS80million

5. Claims Processing Centres and E-Claims — GHS76million

6. Archival System and Document Management— GHS38.58million

7. Telecare Services Platform — GHS30million

8. Transfer of Data from NIA GHS10million

9. E-Pharmacy — GHS11million

The NHIA’s dubious and duplicative digitalization expenditure for 2024 alone amounts to an incredible GHS1,107,240,000. (See attached relevant extracts from NHIA’s Allocation Formula submitted to Parliament)

The fundamental question is — should a struggling health insurance scheme which is unable to pay claims on time, a scheme owing hospitals, a scheme operating in dilapidated hospitals without critical equipment, with many analysts indicating that cash-and-carry is back in many parts of Ghana be spending over GHS1.1billion on non-core interventions in the name of digitalization?

Note also that after the NHIA allocated over GHS1.1billion in 2024 to shady and misplaced digitalization deals, they callously and shamelessly allocated only a paltry GHS2million for desperate dialysis patients.

What is even more disturbing, my investigations reveal that most of the items the NHIA is spending over a billion Cedis on are already catered for in another massive US$100million (GHS1.3billion) single-sourced contract awarded in 2017 by the Ministry of Health under Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu to a company known as Lightwave eHealthcare Solutions Limited. The 20th November, 2015 registered company is owned by Sampson Djaba and Vincent Attabuatsi (see incorporation documents attached).

The US$100million Lightwave project is described as the E-Health Project with Bio-Surveillance (Early Warning) System. The launch took place at the Winneba Trauma and Specialist Hospital on November 21, 2017 and was headlined by Chief of Staff, Hon. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare as the Special Guest of Honour, Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu as Keynote Speaker and Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director General of the Ghana Health Service.

At this launch, and from further documentation in my possession, the scope of the US$100million (GHS1.3billion) Lightwave deal encompasses the following 8 key features:

�i) Centralised data centre with 24hr recovery

ii) Networking and connectivity of ALL hospitals clinics, and community health clinics in every region/district/sub-district in Ghana�(iii) Networking of ALL agencies�(iv) Provide electronic medical records�v) Develop real-time bio-surveillance system�(vi) Develop patient management system.�(vii) NHIS Integration platform�(viii) Develop a centralised laboratory system.

(The claims above as contained in the launch brochure are duly attached.)

Even before the November 21, 2017 launch, Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu signed a 2nd June, 2017 letter addressed to the Ghana Health Service Director General confirming his ministry’s engagement of Lightwave and how the roll out will ensure that “hospital data is integrated with claims management system of the National Health Insurance Scheme.” (Intercepted letter is attached).

The Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government should be explaining to Ghanaian taxpayers why we should be paying over GHS2.6billion Cedis on needless, duplicative and wasteful digitalization deals at the NHIA, Lightwave and another as will de disclosed tomorrow, particularly taking into account other more important and basic unresolved challenges in the health sector.

Strangely, the then Health Minister’s 2nd June, 2017 letter practically killed the businesses of all other Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Patient Management System (PMS) providers in the space, considering that all heads of facilities were warned in the minister’s letter not to renew any existing EMR contract. (See last paragraph of intercepted letter).

My further probing confirms that the Lightwave sweetheart deal is still very much active and is costing the Ghanaian taxpayer a fortune.

In 2023 alone, at a time the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government said they didn’t have GHS4million to save the lives of 19 dialysis patients at Korle Bu, Ghanaian taxpayers coughed a staggering GHS246.8million to pay Lightwave for digitalization — largely the same digitalization we are about to pay billions for again via the NHIA — absolutely unconscionable!

The unimpeachable and irrefutable breakdown of the GHS246.8million 2023 payments to Lightwave are provided below:

LIGHTWAVE 2023 PAYMENTS

Date: 29-Dec-23

Invoice Number: MOH/HQ/GS/095/23/RW

Amount: 62,364,068.07

Date: 18-April-23

Invoice Number: MOH/HQ/CEA/002/23/RW

Amount: 33,844,469.46

Date: 9-Nov-23

Invoice Number: MOH/HQ/GS/073/23/RW

Amount: 69,267,118.15

Date: 23-Aug-23

Invoice Number: NHIA/FA/MOH/SEP23/5177/TOM

Amount: 11,982,270.92

Date: 23-Jun-23

Invoice Number: NHIA/FA/MOH/JUN23/2903/DOK

Amount: 17,775,000.00

Date: 30-May-23

Invoice Number: NHIA/FA/MOH/MAY23/2901/DOK Amount: 16,450,000.00

Date: 30-Oct-23

Invoice Number: NHIA/FA/MOH/NOV23/3179/DOK

Amount: 25,000,000.00

27-Nov-23

NHIA/FA/GS/DEC23/5304/TOM

10,210,781.84

TOTAL ——————– 246,893,710

Additional evidence of how active the US$100million Lightwave deal is can be gleaned from the recent 29th February, 2024 letter signed by Ghana Health Service Director General, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye addressed to selected regional health directors. (See intercepted letter attached).

Very instructively, I am not the only one detecting and raising genuine concerns about the lack of value for money, duplication and wasteful expenditures with this misguided craze for digitalization. Two weeks after the Health Minister’s 2nd June, 2017 letter instructing all health facilities to open their doors to the almighty Lightwave, the Communications and Digitalization Minister in the same Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government, Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, promptly issued a strongly worded notice to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies dated 16th June, 2017 in which she condemns the canker and urged her colleagues to consult NITA before engaging in these costly digitalization procurements. (See intercepted Notice attached).

It is obvious the Communications and Digitalization Minister’s Notice was contemptuously ignored then, and continues to be ignored to this day.

The much touted digitalization drive has obviously become the new conduit for create-loot-and-share schemes.

I am most delighted that Parliament before going on recess ordered a parliamentary probe into all the alarming digitalization contracts within the health sector.

It is time for President Akufo-Addo to suspend the plethora of dubious, doubtful, duplicative, deadly, amorphous, needless and extremely wasteful GHS2.6billion digitalization shady deals in the health sector. I shall be writing to him demanding his urgent intervention in this regard.

In Part 2 of this exposé to be released on Thursday April 4, 2024 at 6am, I shall reveal how another very powerful crony company is cashing in on this lucrative digitalization looting spree in the health sector, even as the real healthcare challenges are abandoned, and the much bigger dangers for our collective security.

The digitalization looting cabal shall be defeated!

For God and Country.

DISCLAIMER: TIGPost.co will not be liable for any inaccuracies contained in this article. The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author’s, and do not reflect those of The Independent Ghana.

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