Dr Henry Mwebesa, the Director-General of Health Services at Ministry of Health (MoH), has responded to reports that permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwine had a hand in an alleged scandal in the procurement of Covid19 vaccines.
Independent newspaper Daily Monitor carried a story titled ‘Health Officials Hide Offer for Covid-19 Jabs’ in which it claimed Dr Atwine was part of the committee that awarded contracts for supply of vital life-saving doses of vaccines and had favoured a particular company.
By according to Dr Mwebesa, on July 19, 2021, cabinet approved a technical inter-ministerial committee, also known as the Vaccine Acquisition Committee to
to guide decisions on the direct sourcing of vaccines.
Contrary to reports that PS Dr Atwine chaired the Vaccine Acquisition Committee, Dr Mwebesa noted that it is him, the director general of health services, that is the head of this committee and he is assisted by the Chair of the Vaccines Advisory Committee.
Other members include representatives from the ministries of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Foreign Affairs, and Security, as well as the National Medical Stores (NMS).
Dr Mwebesa further explained what the Vaccine Acquisition Committee does.
“Specifically, the role of the committee is to review expressions of interest to supply the COVID-19 vaccines based on the following criteria: the profile of the company, the relationship with the manufacturer of Covid19 vaccines, the quantities that can be acquired through the agent the earliest date of delivery and the period within which the supplies can be received, the unit cost per dose and the modalities of payment, time frame and who to be paid,” he explained.
The director general also noted that many companies had expressed interest in supplying vaccines to Uganda between June and July 2021, and that by the end of July, a total of 10 proposals had been submitted to MoH.
“When the committee was instituted, they reviewed all the submitted proposals against an agreed criteria,” he continued.
“However, none of the proposals had evidence of direct linkage with a manufacturer, which was a major requirement. This implied that these companies were intermediaries.”
He added that “no single company was given clearance to supply vaccines” and “no letter of intent was issued to any company” as alleged.
Mwebesa went ahead to explain that on August 11, MoH received an offer of the availability of vaccines from the Covax facility.
“The Vaccine Acquisition Committee reviewed the offer and recommended to Ministry of Health to pursue the offer, a cheaper and more reliable option,” he said.
“The Ministry of Health has since signed a commitment letter with Covax facility for a total of 18 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine at a cost of $5.5 per dose under this arrangement.”
Director General Dr Mwebesa further emphasized that Atwine had no direct influence in the procurement of the vaccines since she was not a member of the committee.
“The Ministry would like to further clarify that the PS Diana Atwine is not a member of the above-mentioned committee,bwas not part of the decisions made by the committee and never pleaded for any private company as alleged since they had all been disqualified in earlier meetings.”
Vaccine Acquisition Committee Uganda, Dr Diana Atwine Covid19 vaccines procurement scandal, Health Ministry officials hide offer for Covid19 jabs, Health Ministry on Dr Diana pleading for private company in Covid19 Procurement Supply, Dr Henry Mwebesa,