Health sector loses $500m annually to fraud

BY: Rebecca Quaicoe Duho
Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang Manu
Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang Manu

Ghana’s health sector is estimated to lose about $500 million every year due to large amounts of waste, fraud, corruption, diversion of resources and accounting irregularities.

The Founder and President of mPedigree, Mr Bright Simons, who disclosed this in Accra yesterday, said although Ghana spent more of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the health sector than most countries in the sub-region, it did not yield the desired impact on the sector.

He said finding innovative ways of addressing the wastage in the sector was critical.

Mr Simons was speaking at a roundtable discussion organised in Accra by mPedigree, a technology social enterprise, with support from the World Bank.

Huge problem

Mr Simons said the country had a huge problem in the area of medicines as there was a high diversion rate in the public sector with most medicines finding their way into the private sector.


According to him, the rate of progress in the sector did not match the expenditure and suggested that what the country needed were controls which were up to date and up to the task.

Dr Bernice Bornmai of the C&J Medical Centre, Accra in a submission, also identified the issue of fake drugs on the Ghanaian market as a cause of great concern to all.

According to her, the World Health Organisation (WHO) was right when it estimated that about 116,000 malaria deaths could be attributed to sub-standard, fake anti-malarial drugs in the sub-region.

She said about 25 per cent of the drugs being sold in pharmacies, on the market and chemical shops were fake.

Panel discussion

Participants in a panel discussion also observed that the whole of the health sector needed reforms if it was to be sustained.

A Deputy Chief Executive, Operations, Dr Lydia Baaba Dsane-Selby; the President of IMANI Africa, Mr Franklin Cudjoe, and Dr Abeka Nkrumah of the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) were all of the view that there were a lot of reforms which needed to be undertaken in the health sector.

They all called for technology and innovation to help revamp the health sector of the country. According to Dr Dsane-Selby, people did not like technology because of the order it brought, saying “some people thrived in the chaos”.

She stated that there were simple ways in which mobile technology could be used to streamline activities in the health sector.

Dr Nkrumah, on the other hand, observed that the biggest problem in the health sector was having leaders who could put the processes together for efficiency in the system, adding that the issue of leadership cut across the African continent.

The President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana and chairperson at the function, Mr Ben Botwe, observed that Ghana had one of the most chaotic supply chains in medicine on the continent.

He said that chaotic distribution system was what was currently accounting for the issues of drug abuse which incudes the tramodol abuse.

He was of the view that with the right technology in the health sector, the issue could be resolved.