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Tolon GHS Director fingered in extortion, procurement fraud

The Tolon District Director of Ghana Health Service (GHS), Charity Azantilow has been accused of extorting and pocketing some GH¢25,000 from about 13 deplorable health centres in the area as well as inflating the prices of procuring patient folders and ID cards.

Documents of the alleged wrongdoings have been leaked to community members and the press, sparking mounting calls for the removal of Ms Azantilow from office.

The Northern Regional Directorate of the GHS has confirmed knowledge and authenticity of the leaked document and said active investigations are ongoing by a panel.

“Let’s wait when the report is out…I will have the full details,” the Regional Director, Dr J.B Eleezah told Starr News when asked for comment.

According to the leaked documents sent to Starr News, the District Director in a letter dated 10th July 2018, instructed heads of all health facilities to pay various sums of money to her office.

The amounts were collected within July and September from the facilities’ National Health Insurance (NHI) funds, one of the leaks revealed.

There are 13 health centres, as shown in one of the documents, 10 out of which are mere CHPS facilities with struggling monthly attendants of less than 20.

With exceptions of the clinics in Tolon, Nyankpala and Wontugu which were asked to pay GH¢10,000, GH¢8,000 and GH¢4,000 respectively, all the remaining CHIPS compounds were forced to cough up GH¢1,500 and GH¢1,000.

Without any explanation, the letter only stated the monies were to assist the DHMT to settle its indebtedness. The Regional Directorate, however, refused to comment whether the monies collected have served its alleged purpose.

Ms Azantilow has also been accused of inflating the cost of printing patient folders and ID cards for the health centres from GH¢2.60p to GH¢4.

One document disclosed that in August 2018, when the district was to procure about three thousand copies of folders and ID cards, one head of the facilities raised doubt about the price for a print and he was asked to lead negotiations, he was able to print a folder and ID card for GH¢2.60p. However, the Director still sold a copy for GH¢4 to the facilities.

The matter was exposed after the District Director attempted to fire the Director in-charge of the Tolon clinic, Dr Anthony Asare Kwabena, a Principal Physician Assistant, who challenged her motive for collecting the monies and failed to endorse payment on behalf his facility.

When Dr Asare refused to pay the money, the District Director tried to subjugate him to comply, including, withholding and also refusing to endorse memos from the Tolon health centre.

In a letter dated 22nd October 2018, the District Director then wrote to the Regional Directorate sacking Dr Asare as the Tolon sub-district head following accusations that he defied her orders.

The Regional Directorate did not respond to the demand of the District Director and Dr Asare remained at post, until last Friday, February 2019. He was summoned to the Regional office and asked to proceed on leave or step aside for the ongoing investigations, Dr Asare confirmed to Starr News but refused further comment.

This is not the first time Ms Azantilow is being accused of  financial improprieties in the District health sector.

She was accused of forcing the deprived health facilities to renovate her office and fix a broken down vehicle for her personal use.

When Starr News contacted her she declined to  comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

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