The Auditor General’s special report on Ghana’s COVID-19 expenditure has revealed that the Ministry of Health paid over GH¢10 million in insurance premiums to cover 10,000 frontline health workers and allied health professionals without a life insurance policy document.
The report which spans between March 2020 and June 2022 scrutinizes how monies received from the various institution including the World Bank, AFDB, EU and the contingency fund summing up to the tune of 21.8 billion were utilized.
“General principles of insurance require that when an employer or organisation purchases Group Life Insurance Policy to cover employees in case of death, accident, temporary/permanent disability and critical illness, the employer or organisation may keep the master agreement, but the identified employees should receive Certificate of Coverage which could be used by the beneficiary or next of kin to apply for the claims when the need arises.
Additionally, the National Insurance Commission Guidelines on Life Insurance Products require that as a standard, all Life Insurance Policy documents must have the name of the person(s) insured by the policy and the name of the policy owner, the amount of insurance coverage (face amount and sum assured) provided by the policy and the effective date of the policy.
We observed that the Ministry paid GH¢10,309,919.94 as premium for Special Life Insurance Cover for 10,000 Health Workers and Allied Health Professionals working on the COVID-19 pandemic without any Life Insurance Policy document detailing the beneficiaries, their location, next of kin in case of death, nature of the benefit and the term of the coverage.” a portion of the report read.
This development according to A-G meant that workers could not have triggered any processes to get compensation if the insurance companies had defaulted in taking care of them in the instance where they had been infected by the virus.
“Health Workers and Allied Health Professionals working on the COVID-19 pandemic who have not signed any insurance policy document will find it difficult to access any benefit under this blanket premium payment arrangement. In the event of default by the insurance companies in payment of benefit, the employees will not have the legal capacity to seek legal redress in Court” the report added.
Other Infraction by the Ministry of Health cited in the report include;
Payment of an amount of US$81,870,379.80 to UNICEF/AVAT for the supply of 16,025,650 vaccines that have still not been delivered.
“In the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Health entered into an agreement with The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and related supplies based on second additional credit financing of US$200,000,000.00 by the World Bank (Credit 6923-GH). Page 3 of the signed agreement stated that the Government intends to apply a portion of the proceeds of the financing, up to an amount of US$147,483,170.16 (the “total funding ceiling”) to eligible payments under this Agreement. We noted that the Ministry of Health on behalf of Government of Ghana paid an amount of US$120,192,379.80 to UNICEF/AVAT for the supply of 16,025,650 vaccines under the agreement. However, 5,109,600.00 doses of vaccines valued at US$38,322,000.00 were supplied to the National Cold Room, resulting in an outstanding amount of US$81,870,379.80 with UNICEF/AVAT” page 73 & 74 of the report captured.
The report also cited the Health Ministry for increasing the cost of five contracts with total contract sum of GH¢24,256,500.00 by GH¢4,017,000.00 through variation orders without approval of the Central Tender Review Committee and also entering into four contracts for the supply of PPEs at a cost of GH¢9,280,300.00 through single-source procurement without the approval of the Board of the Public Procurement.
Additionally, the Ministry also on 15 December 2021 entered a contract signed for the supply of 26 Toyota Hiace Deluxe Ambulances valued at US$4,049,460.12 out of which US$607,419.02 was paid on 2 September 2022 to be delivered by 15 January 2022. The ambulances remain undelivered.
The Ministry of Health is also cited for entering into a 25-year Finance Lease Agreement with QHC Project Limited at a total lease value of GH¢15,265,000.00 in April 2020 for uncompleted buildings in Adaklu in the Volta Region which was to be used as an isolation centre during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic without recourse to the Minister of Finance and financial assessment by the Debt Management Unit. The facilities were not used for the intended purpose and is therefore being remodelling at an additional cost of GH¢20,382,247.70 out of which GH¢13,726,079.86 had been paid.
Again, medical equipment valued at US$110,088.00 and GH¢27,895.00 were issued to a private hospital by name Christleads & Specialist Hospital belonging to Dr. C. K. Amenuveve in Madina which did not serve as a COVID-19 isolation centre or did not receive any COVID-19 patient.
Also, Medical equipment valued at US$247,404.79, procured and received at the Temporary Central Medical Stores and subsequently issued to some specific health facilities between January 2021 and June 2022 are yet to be received by the health facilities.
One Isolation centre, the report reveals that three treatment, isolation and holding centre completed at a total cost of GH¢29,173,259.90 was yet to be put to use while seven isolation and treatment centres being constructed at a cost of GH¢158,072,331.23 had not been completed at the time of the audit, 30 months after the construction had commenced in April, 2020.
Meanwhile a Contractor for the design, construction and equipment of Nalerigu treatment and holding centre in North East Region awarded on 11 May 2020, at a cost of GH¢15,000,000.00 abandoned site three months after starting work after an advance mobilisation of GH¢4,500,000.00, constituting 30 percent of the contract had been paid from GoG sources.