Sunday, April 5, 2020

Government silences German consultants

The Botswana government is believed to have bought the silence of German consultants, Boehringer Ingelheim and UTi, who recently released a critical consultancy report detailing how the Ministry of Health is losing millions of pula through negligence at the Central Medical Stores.
The report by Boehringer Ingelheim and UTi revealed how scores of patients at government hospitals were being sent back home without medication prescribed by doctors due to lack of supplies while the Central Medical Stores dumped more than P20 million worth of expired medical supplies and has set aside an additional P12 million worth of stock which may also be destroyed due to lack of poor management.

Investigations by The Sunday Standard have revealed that the consultants ÔÇô Boehringer Ingelheim and UTi – recently withdrew the critical report and replaced it with a sanitized one.
The Ministry of Health had complained to the consultants to tone down the report and further investigations have revealed information suggesting that the consultants who unilaterally compiled the report stood to lose a multi million pula deal with the government of Botswana if it defied the complaint.

UTi Worldwide, an international logistics company with renowned expertise and experience in healthcare supply chain management, and its sister company, UTi Pharma, who compiled the consultancy report “recommended that the management of Central Medical Stores be outsourced for a defined period of time. It is proposed that a “government private partnership (parastatal) be established.”

Investigations by The Sunday Standard revealed that UTi will be the biggest beneficiaries when the Central Medical Stores is turned into a parastatal. Under the proposed model, UTi Pharma recommended that it should be given a five year management contract of the Central Medical Stores. This would give UTi Pharma advantage over other pharmaceutical suppliers competing for the Botswana billion pula drug market.

Under the proposed deal, UTi Pharma’s sister company, UTi Strategic Services, will make millions of pula offering logistical services for the new parastatal. UTi Worldwide, an organization with renowned expertise as well as experience in healthcare supply chain management and which has been working closely with Boehringer Ingelheim, has also recommended a “transport, facility and personnel” model which allegedly puts them as preferred partners and will increase the Central Medical Stores logistics budget from the current P19,5 million to P26 million.

According to the reports they have submitted to the Ministry of Health and to the Office of the President, the consultants argue that “a higher operating cost is often required to achieve a higher service level.”
The Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Health, Colombia Boitshoko, confirmed this week that the initial report by UTi and Boehringer Ingelheim has been withdrawn following complaints by the Ministry of Health. Boitshoko, however, maintained that this was not meant to sanitize the report but to give the consultants an opportunity to interview more government officials.

The Sunday Standard can further reveal that the consultancy followed a discussion between President Festus Mogae and representatives of Boehringer Ingelheim, Dr Andreas Barner and Paul Stewart. It was at this meeting that Boehringer Ingelheim was requested to investigate causes of the problems at the Central Medical Supplies and recommend possible solutions.

Responding to the request, Boehringer Ingelheim commissioned the support of UTi Worldwide, an international logistics company with interest in the pharmaceutical industry that has a long standing association with Boehringer Ingelheim.

The new model, which is expected to close out citizen suppliers from the Botswana billion pula public sector drug market, is understood to be in line with the anti-citizen empowerment thinking at the Office of the President.

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