Minority Spokesperson on Health, Joseph Yieleh Chireh has downplayed the significance of the service agreement between the government and Zipline International Incorporated for the use of drone technology to deliver blood and other health supplies nationwide, describing it as a misplaced priority.
The Wa West MP believes the amount of money that will be spent on this project could have been used to provide healthcare services for persons in deprived communities.
“The amount of money we are going to spend to deliver these items could have been used to provide access to many people in terms of healthcare of facilities. In any case what is the terrain of this country such that you will need drones? It is a misplaced priority .We have not reached a place yet in Ghana where technology drives everything.
“The challenges we have in our health system don’t need drones. People are dying not because there are no drones to deliver the medical supplies.They are dying because the supplies aren’t available in the first place..”
Parliament defers agreement
Parliament on Monday deferred the approval process for the agreement on Monday to allow for some regulatory checks to be completed before the agreement is approved by the House.
The Minority in Parliament recently also rejected the agreement, citing that fact that it was sole-sourced.
The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu explained that “There are outstanding regulatory approvals for compliance with the law before the house takes the decision. and the minister seems to agree with me.”
The government entered into the $12 million contract for the design, installation and operation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), with the Silicon Valley-based logistics company, after approval from the Procurement Authority.
hief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Authority, AB Adjei, stated, among other things, that “we also noted the rather strong argument put up by the Service Provider to justify their pricing; indicating that the price offered to the Ministry of Health is comparable to prices for similar operations in other jurisdictions.
The Board was of the view that the Ministry and its stakeholders had satisfied themselves that the cost of the project would obtain value for money to inure to the benefit of the state.
“In line with Section 40(1) (a) of Act 663 as amended, the Board grants approval to Ministry of Health to engage Messrs Zipline International Inc. for the design, installation and operation of unmanned area vehicles at a cost of $12,527,000 over a four-year period.”
The journey to the signing of the deal with the service provider started with a correspondence from Cabinet headlined, “Request For Approval To Use The Source Procurement Method For The Drone Delivery System By Zipline International For The Delivery Of Blood Supplies And Emergency Medical Supplies.”
After the memorandum was greenlit, the Minister of Health was directed to apply to the Public Procurement Authority for the necessary approval.
In line with due diligence regarding such important public transactions, especially as it is hinged on the sole sourcing method, the National Security Council Secretariat was tasked to do a background check on the service provider, the result from which was positive.
A portion of the report from the National Security Council Secretariat regarding the subject reads: “Checks confirmed that Zipline International Inc. USA is a Silicon Valley-based Logistics Company that designs, manufactures and operates small robot airplanes (drones) to deliver medical products on demand in harsh terrains.
“It’s funded by some of the world’s leading venture capital firms, including Andreesen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Temasek Holdings.
“Checks revealed that the President of Rwanda, Paul Kigame, on 10th October, 2016, launched Rwanda’s first national drone delivery service in partnership with Zipline International Inc to improve on public health delivery system in the country.
In the light of the foregoing, the National Security Coordinator Joshua Kyeremeh concluded that “the Secretariat can confirm that Zipline International Inc is a credible entity and has the capability to deliver emergency medical products across Ghana.”