Ghana’s public healthcare system has perennial if not generational challenges, from chiefly the lack of infrastructure to the funding hurdles and general human resource constraints.
The area of corruption also does bedevil the sector as it does most sectors of national life. But the negative impact of corruption in the health sector is the far-reaching consequences that it comes with.
Imagine a medical doctor without requisite certification, a nurse without the necessary training or a pharmacist without the knowledge to dispense drugs or a surgeon with no qualification – the result in all of this is deadly.
Following months of undercover investigation into the activities of the Ghana Pharmacy Council, PC, Akwasi Koranteng of ISPYGH 247 has uncovered systemic corruption with respect to the sale of ‘restricted’ licenses by the Council.
The license in question being the Over-the-Counter Medicines Sellers’ – OTCMS – license. On January 31, 2021, the PC officially announced a ban on issuance of the said licenses.
The ban remains in place at the time of filing this report but within that same period, Akwasi Koranteng of ISPYGH 247 and his team of investigators, paid for two of these licenses from a powerful liaison within the OTCMS hierarchy in Kumasi and a gorro boy in Kumasi.
The Kumasi contacts
Over in the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi, the team dealt with two main persons. Nana Agyei – a Sub Chief at Daaho in the Mampong Traditional Council and one Mr. Solomon Boakye who owns OTCMS shops.
The two suspected fraudsters, per our investigations promised to acquire the ‘restricted’ Chemical Sellers Licenses which can only be applied for from and approved at the Pharmacy Council.
A license that is under normal circumstances supposed to be sold for about 700 cedis, was costed between 10,000 to 15,400 Ghana cedis, this, after painstaking negotiations with the two men.
The story of Nana Adjei – first meeting till arrest
The team first met Nana Agyei on March 25, 2022; at his residence in Asante Mampong Daaho to express interest in acquiring an OTCMS license. Without any due diligence, Nana Agyei agreed to play ball.
Nana Agyei, incidentally is the financial secretary for the Chemical Seller Association of Ghana – Ashanti Region spoke of his affiliation with top officials at the Pharmacy Council, saying despite the ban on issuing licenses to operators, he can easily work on issuing one to anybody ready with an amount of 10,000 Ghana cedis.
To prove his claims, Nana Agyei showed letters he had written to the Registrar of the Pharmacy council and their WhatsApp chats.
To kick start the process, he sold a renewal form for 10 Ghana Cedis to the reporters, an act considered illegal because such a form must strictly be obtained from the Pharmacy Council.
He explained further that instead of the team applying for a new license, his connections will use this form to get the new license. He claimed all new and renewal licenses go through him before approval. This we believe also goes against relevant regulations of the Pharmacy Council.
Nana Agyei again revealed his connection with an official from the Vice President Dr. Bawumia’s office, one Nana Obuoba Kissi who was the former Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the Chemical Sellers Association of Ghana.
The Jubilee House official, he stressed was the main person who connected him to the Registrar of the Pharmacy Council, with who he has been circumventing the rules over the years relative to the illegal issuance of ‘restricted licenses.’
A report was subsequently lodged at the Mampong Divisional Police station by Akwasi Koranteng (lead investigator) leading to Nana Adjei’s arrest after receiving the sum of 10,000 Ghana Cedis as payment for the license.
At the station, he earlier denied ever having contact with the investigators but after being confronted with secret videos of him bargaining with the investigator, he accepted the fact that, he tried dealing in issuing license for the operation of chemical selling which was illegal in Ghana.
In Nana Agyei’s defence, he said The Chemical Sellers Association had some agreement of sorts with the Registrar of the Pharmacy Council to use this process instead of going through the right process at the Council.
The arrest of Solomon Boakye
The investigative team met Solomon on the same day as Nana Adjei. In his case, he also agreed to help us acquire a license for the team member at ISPYGH 247 for the sum of 15,400 Ghana cedis.
In our interactions, he serially bragged about owning three chemical shops and that he uses other people’s names to acquire the licenses.
He boasted of his capacity to issue the ‘restricted’ licenses within the shortest possible time frame. He revealed that, through the right channels, that is applying through the office of the Pharmacy Council, it takes about 3 years but with connection, he can get the license within two months.
Akwasi Koranteng reported Solomon’s intent to commit fraud to the KNUST police department.
On the day set for the arrest, Mr. Solomon was met by Akwasi Koranteng at the Shell filling station at Boadi Junction in Kumasi.
He wrote a receipt of 15,400 Ghana cedis after receiving the full sum. What he didn’t know was that the CID officers in plain cloth were on standby to arrest him. The police swooped in and arrested Solomon in his Toyota Camry.
At the Station, Solomon cried and denied ever dealing with the ISPYGH team until Akwasi Koranteng showed a video of him taking the 15,400 Ghana Cedis.
At this point, Solomon then mention one Mr. Ernest Kojo Okley who is an Over The Counter Medicine seller as his main superior who is connected to the Registrar in Accra and helps him in the illegal action.
Upcoming documentary film – ‘OTC – Robbing the Poor’
ISPYGH 247 – the investigative firm behind this exposé – has unearthed the shocking practice of the sale of Over-The-Counter Medicine Sellers License to unqualified persons.
And more worryingly at overly inflated prices. In its investigative documentary soon to be released titled O.T.C – Robbing The Poor, the full extent of the rot and drama will be shown to the world.