A group of South African doctors, Progressive Health Forum (PHF) has called for an investigation into an alleged irregular contract. PHF wants law enforcement authorities to investigate a R600 million multivitamin contract that the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) has awarded.

PHF wants SAPS and SIU to investigate contract award

PHF claims the contract was awarded through the quotation system and broke the law. According to PHF, the contract appeared to be an arrangement in which GEMS was defrauded. PHF says GEMS broke its own rules and ignored warnings from the SA Pharmacy Council and the Health Professionals Council of SA (HPCSA).

The head of the PHF, Dr Aslam Dasoo, said the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and SAPS need to look into the contract. Dasoo says there was no reason to award the contract with respect to medical plan law.

“The matter should be reported to SAPS and, if warranted, to the Special Investigations Unit for further investigation,”

Dasoo said.

GEMS has been warned against continuing the contract

Dasoo says the board and management of GEMS were warned against awarding this contract as it would lead to “misuse and waste of public resources”. Dasoo said that in most cases storing these products for five months in SA’s environment will cause the products to degrade.

“The warnings also indicated that the cost to the regime, i.e. the members, was much higher than the price at which patients could acquire these vitamins if they were prescribed and distributed ethically,”

Dasoo said.

GEMS awarded the contract to Activo Health despite the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA) requiring all government contracts above R500,000 to be advertised and tendered.

The PHF corps of doctors asked SAPS and the SIU to investigate the alleged irregular contract. Photo: Daniel Foster/Flickr

When was the contract awarded and how?

The contract was awarded on December 24. It stipulates the provision of AZ multivitamins to one million GEMS members for five months. The five months began in January this year, reports IOLs.

GEMS reported appointing Medscheme for quotes. Medscheme recommended its sister company Activo Health. Dasoo explained that GEMS is not allowed to prescribe drugs to its members.

“The distribution of these products by GEMS does not fall within the definition of relevant health services, as defined in the Medical Schemes Act. Medical schemes are intended to reimburse diagnosis-related expenses, ie the flow of expenses resulting from the intermediation of healthcare professionals.

Dasoo said.

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