An investigation on thefts of government drugs has led to the arrests of three members of the Upper East Regional Hospital’s staff and retrieval of tons of drugs stolen from the hospital’s stores.
Months of monitoring of illegal movements of drugs from the hospital saw the arrests of Raymond Asoke, a driver, Fasilat Raheem, the hospital’s storekeeper, and Bridget Noeyelle, a staff at the hospital’s pharmacy and wife to a regional administrator of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) arrested on Friday, 4 August 2023.
Edward Adeti uncovered a hidden location where the cartons of the drugs were being kept and led police officers from the Divisional Police Command in Bolgatanga to the area to effect arrests.
Thirty-four cartons were retrieved during the first arrest from a room inside a building at a location in the regional capital.
Adeti said more boxes containing assorted medications including drips, antimalarial medicines and anaesthetics among key drugs provided for the hospital by the Ministry of Health had been taken out of the region by a drug theft cartel in the region for at least the past two years.
The journalist said drug thefts had been going on at the hospital before he started monitoring in 2022 to locate where the medicines were being kept. He gained access into the hiding place on August 3, 2023, and obtained evidence.
He said despite the fact that there was a notice on the boxes that the medicines were not for sale, the staff involved in the theft still managed to transport them out of the region to sell them.
The thefts have resulted in chronic drug shortages at the hospital where patients and clients even in critical and emergency conditions are told there were no drugs and mostly are compelled to buy prescription medicines at pharmacies far outside the hospital’s premises. Some patients died and the conditions of others worsened as a result of the medicine thefts. The criminal acts have also robbed the hospital and state of a lot of revenue.
The driver (Raymond Asoke) was apprehended while he was packing the boxes containing the medicines when Adeti and the police team arrived. The storekeeper is said to be one of the major brains involved in the crime and it was her private car with registration number GE 1532-21 the driver drove to the hiding place to move the stolen drugs away.
Incessant barking from dogs at around the scene of arrests attracted public attention. The Administrator of the hospital, Samuel Atuba, rushed to the arrest scene in shock just before the driver was taken away in handcuff.
He identified the driver as a member of the hospital’s staff and said the management had been hinted that stealing of drugs was going on at the hospital but the authorities, according to him, were too helpless on their own to locate where the stolen drugs were being kept.
More suspects are expected to be picked up pending a criminal court trial.