health

Global Fund issues final warning to Ghana over delayed clearance of critical TB and malaria medications

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The Global Fund has issued a final warning to Ghana, demanding the immediate clearance of tuberculosis (TB) and malaria medications that have been stuck at the port since last October. Despite government assurances, a significant portion of these shipments remains uncleared and at risk of expiration.

In April, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) announced that it had secured tax waivers to facilitate the clearance of the drugs after prolonged delays. However, demurrages and third-party charges have accumulated to seven million cedis, blocking the clearance of more than 118 containers at the port.

Samuel Hackman of the Global Fund Coordinating Mechanism Secretariat highlighted the gravity of the situation, stressing that it affects not only the $45 million worth of commodities but also strains Ghana’s relationship with the Global Fund.

He stated, “The issue is as bad as it was two months ago because it has not been fully resolved. This situation pertains to $45 million worth of commodities procured by the Global Fund under GC Six Ghana, part of which remains held at the port. It’s very worrying and is damaging our relationship with the Global Fund.”

Hackman added that the Global Fund has been patient due to the longstanding relationship with Ghana but emphasized that this patience is wearing thin. “They have stated categorically that their patience is due to our longstanding relationship. However, we must fulfill our promises within a specified time frame or risk losing this support. The Global Fund needs to explain these delays to its donors and management, and continued inaction could lead to severe repercussions.”

Meanwhile, hospitals across Ghana are facing critical shortages of essential drugs, particularly TB medications, due to the backlog at the port. Ernest Amoabeng Ortsin, President of the Ghana HIV and AIDS Network, underscored the urgency of the situation. “It is true that we have run out of stock for TB medications. The Global Fund has indicated it might cut ties with us if this situation is not resolved. For diseases like HIV and TB, interrupted treatment can lead to drug resistance, necessitating more expensive second-line medications.”

Ortsin further expressed frustration over the situation, stating, “These medications are provided to us for free by the Global Fund, yet we are unable to clear them from our port. It is baffling.”

The Global Fund’s ultimatum underscores the critical need for swift action to prevent further deterioration of Ghana’s healthcare system and to maintain the vital support of international partners.

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