The Ministry of Health of Ukraine wants to overspend 40% of the budget, which can be used for procurement of additional 50,000 protective suits for health workers. These are the results of the first tender held by the MoH at the cost of the reserve budget to combat COVID-19. The Ministry of Health administration got around the procurement through the independent specialized agency SE Medical Procurement of Ukraine and laid hands on the tenders.
«Volunteers buy protective suits for Ukrainian doctors for about UAH 200 a piece, regional health facilities also find protective suits for UAH 200-300 a piece. The State Enterprise Medical Procurement of Ukraine procured suits in the same price range, specifically for UAH 245 a piece from the local manufacturer. Instead, the Ministry of Health changed its procurement plans overnight and increased the price up to UAH 500 for one protective suit», said Inna Ivanenko, Executive Director of CF «Patients of Ukraine».
Protective suits proposed by SE Medical Procurement of Ukraine had all specified documents and fully met the requirements provided by the MoH before the tender. However, MoH changed the requirements already after the state enterprise completed the procurement.
«We see that the Ministry has manipulated the tender technical order for the sole purpose of taking over all procurements to its tender committee. With the right to procure through international companies and through its own enterprise, the MoH decided to select its own tender committee and drive up the prices. For this purpose, the Ministry of Health simply took the technical order for procurement provided to its own enterprise and added another requirement, which was not there earlier», explains Olena Shcherban, a Member of the Anticorruption Action Center Board.
As a result, instead of 140,000 protective suits (90,000 under the tender terms and 50,000 that could be bought for saved money) the Ukrainian hospitals will receive only 70,000. This is in the situation when protective means for Ukrainian doctors are in increasingly short supply. Even the officially reported needs of hospitals indicate that the current shortage is nearly one million protective suits, half a million respirators and half a million isolation gowns.
«Because doctors are unprotected, they get infected in the early stages of the epidemic in large numbers. Every 5th infected person in the country is a doctor. In Italy, which has overcome a peak load on the medical system this figure is twice less, in Germany — 10 times less. At this rate, we will soon have no one to provide treatment to patients», says Roman Fischuk, ENT doctor, Executive Director of the Clinical Research Unit at the Central City Clinical Hospital of Ivano-Frankivsk City Council.
The MoH, instead of protecting doctors and procuring protective suits two months ago, blocked all procedures and tenders. Now it went around the procurement organizations and laid hands on procurement. Moreover, officials also cynically took refuge in good intentions as if buying expensive means buying better quality to protect doctors.
«If the MoH really wanted to protect doctors, it would have procured protective suits two months ago, it would have not blocked procurement of medicines and equipment and we would not have these terrible numbers of the infected doctors today. But in reality the Ministry of Health is not really concerned with doctors but with tenders like in the days of Bogatyreva, when exactly the same scheme worked and 40% of the budget funds for tenders was stolen. This time the price is high: the lives of doctors», said Dmitry Sherembey, Head of CO 100% Life.