The Ministry of Health through it’s Director General Health Service Dr. Henry G Mwebesa has today 19th, August 2021 drawn attention to a headline in a local newspaper, Daily Monitor, reading “Health Officials Hide Offer for COVID-19 Jabs”. The article further states that “COVID jabs breakthrough exposes health officials.”
According to Mwebesa, a technical inter-ministerial committee also known as the ‘Vaccine Acquisition Committee’ was approved by cabinet sitting on July 19th 2021 and the members of the committee were approved by the minister of health. The was established to guide decisions with respect to direct sourcing of the vaccine.
The committee is chaired by Dr Henry G Mwebesa , assisted by the chair of vaccine advisory committee and other members include; members from the ministry of Finance, planning and economic development , ministry of foreign affairs, ministry of security and National Medical stores (NMS) among others.
“The role of the committee is to review expressions of interest to supply the COVID-19 vaccine which bases on the profile of the company, the relationship with the manufacturer of COVID-19 vaccines, the quantities that can be acquired through the agent, the earliest dates of delivery and the period within supplies can be refused, the cost per unit dose and the modalities of payment, time frame, and who to be paid”. Dr. Mwebesa said.
“Cognizant of the need of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, a number of companies expressed interests to supply vaccines to the government of Uganda between June and July 2021. By the end of July 2021 a number of 10 proposals were submitted to the ministry of health. When the committee was instituted, the reviewed all the submitted proposals against an agreed criteria. However, non of the proposals had evidence to direct linkage with the manufacturer which was a major requirement. This implied that these companies were intermediaries. It is important to note that no single company was given clearance to supply vaccines as alleged by the said article. Furthermore no letter of intent was issued to any company”. Dr Mwebesa added.
The Ministry of health received an offer for vaccines from the COVAX facility. The vaccine acquisition committee reviewed the offer and advised the Ministry of Health to pursue the offer, a cheaper and more reliable option. The ministry of health later signed a commitment letter with the COVAX facility for a total of 18million doses of sinopharn vaccine at a cost of $5.5 per dose under the arrangement.
On behalf of the Ministry of Health, he clarified that the Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwine was not a member of the mentioned committee and was not part of the decisions made by the committee and never pleaded for any private company as alleged since they all had been disqualified in the previous meetings.