Investigations by Joy News have uncovered how the President of the National Diabetes Association of Ghana, Elizabeth Denyoh undersupplied hospitals with free insulin meant for children with diabetes.
The Association signed a memorandum of understanding with donor agency, the International Diabetes Federation to provide free insulin for diabetic children under the Life-For-A-Child programme.
But officials selected by the diabetes Association to distribute the free insulin sold strips and glucometers to patients who are unaware that they should be free.
The Life-For-A-Child programme partners with diabetic centres in about 42 lower-income countries to provide insulin and syringes, blood glucose monitoring equipment and test strips, clinical care, HbA1c testing, diabetes education, workshops, camps, resources as well as support for health professionals.
The investigation conducted by Kwetey Nartey also revealed differences in figures of insulin sent to the Diabetes Association and what was supplied to listed health facilities.
In 2013, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital got 240 strips instead of 730 and 20 lancets instead of 50.
Checks also confirmed that the diabetic clinic at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital did not receive the full consignment as communicated by Madam Denyoh to the donor agency.
Dr Emmanuel Ameyaw is in charge of the diabetes clinic at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and he told Kwetey that: “When the consignment came, we realized that we didn’t get the exact number that we were supposed to get. We got all the 50 for the meters, but we did not get about 490 of the strips and we did not get 30 of the lancets.”
A retired nurse at the Wa Regional Hospital, Mary Dayunor who was in charge of the distribution in that Region told Kwetey that, most of the patients who came to the hospital could not afford to pay for their medication.
In that part of the country where poverty is rife, the GHS5.00 charged for the strips was too expensive for parents whose only source of living was through farming.
The case is not different at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in the Ashanti Region.
Former Principal Nursing Officer at the Diabetic Centre, Janet Obimpeh confirmed that those in charge of the insulin brought to the hospital sold them to patients.
“I quite remember once I asked where the insulin was coming from and why they sold it, I was told that when it comes, they go there to retrieve the insulin and since it came at a cost, they were subsidizing it for the patients.”
Madam Obimpeh said the hospital allowed them to sell the insulin because, at the time, the government had run out of the medication.
“So those who could get the money were buying it,” she said. A development which clearly goes against the agreement reached between the International Diabetes Federation and the National Diabetes Association of Ghana.
When questioned, Madam Denyoh said there was an ‘unofficial’ agreement to give some of the medication meant for children to adults.
Kwetey also found out that figures to the donor agency were inflated.
In reality, she attends to 670 children, but on the record, she puts the figure at 712, and her defence is that the remaining medication is given to non-governmental organizations.
This means that she diverted 772 out of 13,104 vials of insulin to unintended beneficiaries in 2015 and 756 out of 12,816 vials received from the donor in 2016.
That is, in 2015 and 2016, a total of 1,528 vials of insulin were diverted from the supply meant for free distribution to children.