On June 12, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine amended the Resolution, which complicates the pharmaceutical procurement process. NGOs are concerned that the country stumbles on the manual procurement management that threatens the patients to stay without essential medicines.
From now on the State Enterprise “Medical Procurement of Ukraine” cannot buy anything without the approval from the Health Ministry of Ukraine. The State Enterprise should agree with the Health Ministry every scope of work and even a tender cannot be announced until the Health Minister Maksim Stepanov commands his go-ahead.
Moreover, even draft agreements should be submitted to the Health Ministry for approval (it is an interesting practice when agreement is approved by the non-party to the agreement), otherwise the State Enterprise does not receive money to its bank account and does not procure anything.
“It looks like Mr. Stepanov and his team practice ‘do-it-yourself’ management style. After all, approving every purchase of the State Enterprise means procrastinating the whole procurement process. The MoH has already brazenly and illegally interfered in the procurement of protective suits for doctors by the State Enterprise and this time it is simply trying to ‘legitimize’ its intervention at every step of the pharmaceutical procurement for seriously ill Ukrainians. It is obvious that the Health Ministry is not interested in prompt and high-quality procurement, but rather tries to earn and send money to its own channels instead of buying cheaper,” said Olena Shcherban, a member of the Anti-Corruption Action Center board.
With this Resolution, the MoH will actually conduct procurement manually delaying deliveries and making the State Enterprise a punchball. Moreover, such regulation directly contradicts the procurement principles specified by the Law of Ukraine On Public Procurement, in particular, efficiency, proportionality and objectivity.
According to NGOs, this is a negative signal for businesses because potential suppliers will understand that even the tender winners are not guaranteed payment as it depends on the Health Minister like or dislike.
“We are outraged! Initially, patients and the public are literally forcing the Ministry of Health to start purchasing medicines and medical devices. We provide health workers with protection means on our initiative. Instead, the Health Ministry initiates changes to the legislation that transform the independent procurement agency into a MoH Tender Committee. This is nothing more than an attempt to take over all tender powers. And this is a threat of disrupting tenders, because the Health Ministry for months holds back the approval of the documents necessary for launching the procurement and for months it will pend to approve SOWs or contracts, as it has already happened”, said Inna Ivanenko, Executive Director of the CF “Patients of Ukraine”.
It is not the first time that the Health Ministry is trying to put a spoke in the wheels of the newly created state enterprises that observe transparent and honest principles of work. At first, the MoH decided to procure protective overalls for doctors on its own paying double price. Subsequently, Mr. Stepanov decided to appoint Konstantin Yarynich, a person involved in the anti-corruption investigations to the position of the Head of the National Health Service of Ukraine (NHSU) ignoring a transparent competition procedure.
Mr. Stepanov and his deputy Svitlana Shatalova also delayed signing critical documents required to start the procurement for seriously ill patients.
Instead of looking for ways out of the crisis, simplifying everything as much as possible and letting everyone do their job, the Health Ministry is coming up with new loopholes for control, to which it has neither the right nor the expertise. The deficit, which may occur in the autumn, is further stimulated by the Ministry by creating such control mechanisms.