Thursday 17 June 2021
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ARV tender stinks

…as procurement board cancels health tender


The latest ARV supply and delivery tender has turned into a battle between big business names.
The tender which is valued well over N$300 million was so fiercely contested that the multimillion tender had to be cancelled earlier this week. The Central Procurement Board cancelled the tender on Tuesday. The CPB chairman Patrick Swartz this week sent a notice of cancellation to all bidders informing them of the cancellation. “You are hereby informed that the abovementioned bid has been cancelled in terms of Section 54(1) (g) read with Section 55(1) of the Public Procurement Act, Act 15 of 2015. The Central Procurement Board appreciates the time and effort it took in preparing your bid response and apologies for any inconveniences this may have caused,” said Swartz.
Well-placed sources however indicated that there is more to the cancellation than the lack of funds claims being advanced.
The source said the tender was cancelled following a clash of the behind-the-scenes titans.
The Patriot understands a company called Shipanga Medical is, owned by prominent businessman Martin Shipanga at the center of the cancellation.
The tender was flighted in January and was due for adjudication 90 days after being made public. This did not happen.
When questioned about claims that his company lobbied for the tender to be cancelled and subsequently have it re-advertised in order to get another chance to land the multimillion dollar, Shipanga said, “those claims are unfounded. Fact is – We Never Tendered for ARVs and are not even aware of any such tender.
Besides our business model just like all the other businesses I have founded, none of them are based nor sustained by any government tenders. However, as a 100% Namibian initiative, having invested in infrastructure and having recruited Namibians – surely we are entitled to participate in our Economy,” said Shipanga.
Shipanga Medical and SJV Medical Supplies are seen as the leading contenders to land the multimillion dollar tender once it is re-advertised.
SJV, owned by businessman Amon Victor, has been in the medical supply industry for years and could this place it in pole position.
SJV was awarded tenders worth over N$50 million during 2014/15 to supply low, medium and high technical medical equipment.
Health minister Dr. Bernard Haufiku was unaware of the cancellation when contacted yesterday. Haufiku said a number of tenders submitted to the procurement board by his ministry have been sent back in recent months “because of documents not being in order. I am not sure whether the tenders are being send back because of the documents or perhaps its just excuses being advanced by the board. Or it could genuinely be that the officials who form part of our ministerial tender committee are not submitting the required documents,” said Haufiku.
Another tender estimated to cost between N$600 million and N$800 million has also been shelved, The Patriot can reveal.
Although these details are sketchy at this point, it is indicated that goods to be procured includes the supply and delivery of medical equipment such as syringes, beds rubber gloves and other related equipment used at public health facilities. ARV supply and delivery has been a bone of contention since 2016. That year, the health ministry sourced 70 tonnes of ARV medicine for N$64 million from Uganda without going on tender. The cancelled tender would have been one of the first ARV tenders sourced locally since then. At the time, The Namibian reported that the local suppliers quoted more than double what the foreign suppliers quoted.
Namibia has a population of 2.3 million people, with 250 000 of those living with HIV, according to a 2014 UNAIDS report.

Cash crunch
The Ministry of Health and Social Services is on its knees financially and can no longer “do more with less”. Haufiku this week said the ministry needs at least N$9 billion to execute its mandate.
The ministry was allocated N$ 6 537 1 02 000 for this financial year. Last year (2017/18) it received N$6 514 579 000 and in the 2016/17 financial year received N$7 230 983 000. “I said we are determined to do more with little. I have reversed that position. We are unable to do with what we have at the moment. I must be honest,” said Haufiku.
He said at face value, the health budget sounds like a lot but is not enough. At the moment, the ministry faces an avalanche of challenges, all with one common denominator – a shortage of funds. “The reality is that we need more funds,” he pleaded.
The ministry has submitted its new structure to the Office of the Prime Minister for implementation. “We have the positions, all described in detail, but we do not have the funds,” Haufiku said.
He also said the ministry does not have a dialysis centre or a paediatric intensive care unit.
“At the moment, we are paying something like N$44 million for roughly 290 patients who need dialysis done in the private sector. If we had our own machine, we would tremendously reduce this cost,” he said.
Children with heart conditions are taken to South Africa for operations, which also places financial strain on the ministry, Haufiku said. In addition, several capital projects of the ministry have also been put on ice.
Work on a tuberculosis ward in Keetmanshoop, maternity ward in Rundu, clinic in Epupa, and hospital at Okahao has been halted.
To mitigate the financial dilemma, Haufiku hinted that they are looking at closing down an entire department in a bid to save funds to be diverted to critical services.
He suggested either the security or catering departments, saying security could be provided by the Namibian Police or Namibian Defense Force, while catering can be done internally.
The situation is so dire that the minister opted to not have a personal assistant or special advisor and he only has one driver assigned to him. “These are all measures that save money, even though it’s little,” he said. These revelations come at a time when the ministry is unable to employ new nurses during the 2018/19 financial year, also owing to lack of funds.
Additional reporting by Nampa



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