More than 19% of all infected Covid-19 in Ukraine are doctors. Our country is among the world leaders in this indicator. This is largely due to the lack of protective equipment for doctors. In these conditions, purchases of medical equipment, masks, and protective suits become critical.
In order to quickly supply the country with the necessary amount of protection, March 17, MPs introduced amendments to the law of Ukraine "On public procurement." Thanks to these changes, longer tenders are no longer needed, procedures are accelerating.
But what coronavirus procurement is carried out by the authorities and what is the quality of the purchased goods?
According to the Ministry of Health, Ukrainian hospitals lack nearly a million protective suits against the virus. The country is actively purchasing not only disposable but also reusable protective equipment that is sterilized with antiseptics. In particular, products are increasingly being purchased from Ukrainian entrepreneurs.
Recently, there was a scandal that the Ministry of Health abandoned suits “Textile-Contact” for 8 USD in favor of Chinese for 19 USD. The ministry explained that the goods of the Ukrainian manufacturer were of poor quality.
On the company's website, we find reusable protective overalls with a hood and a waterproof coating that can withstand up to 20 washings; they are made of spunbond. The same material is used, for example, for covering seedlings. Its filtration class is G2-G3; it traps particles of 10 microns and larger. Partially, such a suit will delay the virus (the probability of infection, according to the Ministry of Health, is reduced significantly). But protection will be incomparably higher if the product uses a layer of Meltblown.
There is no evidence that the Chinese product is reliable. The existence of Chinese product certificates does not guarantee its quality. Polish media, for example, wrote about 7 million protective masks that were brought into the country from China by a Ukrainian plane. It turned out that they had fake certificates. There are big doubts that imported suits would be tested. Extra money is needed for inspections, and most importantly, precious time.
The Ministry of Health will conduct an internal investigation regarding this situation. But it is important to understand that this entire dispute concerns only 71,300 suits. This amount is extremely small in the nationwide terms. Protection is enough for a month only for 2,500 thousand doctors, so the purchase will cover less than 20% of the needs. Therefore, quality fades into the background. In addition, it does not seem that the reliability of costumes for doctors has been thought of before.
We contacted two infectious disease specialists who treat Ukrainian patients to find out if they are aware of the degree of protection of their clothes. Doctors had no idea if their suits had an extra protective layer. Some doctors showed their personal protective equipment online.
In many cases, project documentation does not clarify what level of protection suits are. Zaporizhya Regional Administration bought 57,000 suits for almost 1 million USD. These are fire-fighting, rescue, and protective equipment, nothing is known about the protection class.
Doubts arise regarding procurement in other departments. According to Prozorro public e-procurement system, the Ministry of Internal Affairs is acquiring 250,000 suits for 10 USD. Moreover, it is stated that these suits will be disposable and non-sterile. That is, almost 2,5 million USD is spent on precautions on the accounts of the Fort enterprise of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
And the Ministry of Defense is buying suits from the Chinese company for 21 USD without VAT, which is clearly more expensive than the average market price. We will recall the Combasst Industry Development Co company - in total, the ministry purchased over 570,000 USD of protective equipment from it.
Masks and respirators
Ukraine has about 186,000 doctors. Outpatient admission is approximately 33 hours per week. But in the fight against coronavirus, doctors work longer - 40 hours on average. That is, about 20 masks per person are needed per week. For all doctors in Ukraine, this is 3.7 million masks in just 7 days. But civil servants, law enforcement officers also need them. So we need at least 3 times more masks than we have today. A large supply of Mriya aircraft does not fundamentally change the situation, because many masks from this batch will go on sale in pharmacies.
We are already making some progress on this issue. Judging by the data of the Prozorro analytics module, masks are being purchased more and more actively in Ukraine. They have already spent more than 3,7 million USD. On average, one mask costs 0,5 USD.
Some government agencies prescribe requirements for masks – they should have three layers, sealed seams, a retainer on the nose. But many tenders have been announced for the purchase of “spunbond masks,” or reusable masks, sewn from technical non-woven fabric, that is, from ordinary cotton for clothes. Fortunately, most of these purchases are not for doctors.
“The procedure is not simple. It is still necessary to publish the procurement plan in the system, wait for two days, check suppliers for compliance with 13 points, including information from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, sanctions lists, anti-corruption requirements, and tax debts, and publish the report,” says one of the Ukrainian manufacturers.
In general, Ukraine is actively acquiring tests that cannot really show the presence of coronavirus, that is, rapid tests with a high error. Only every tenth of the purchased tests is a high-precision PCR test.
Many companies that supply rapid tests are not very reliable. ALT Ukraine LTD, for example, is a defendant in several criminal cases. A case on embezzlement was opened against "Incos Line."
The price of the express tests themselves is also different. Kyiv hospital number 8 bought tests for 8 USD per item, the health department of Chornomorsky City Council – 11 USD per item.
For comparison, the specialists of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine produce accurate PCR tests on average 9 USD each. Foreign tests are several times more expensive. Nevertheless, domestic products were not purchased for a long time. And even now, when scientists report on production capacities of 50,000 tests per week, the authorities are talking about much lower supply figures - up to 20,000 per day.
The Ministry of Health announced that 450,000 PCR tests had already been sent to the regions, which did not correlate well with the previously stated production volumes. Later it became known that the tests will not be bought from the Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics but from Ukrgentech private company. The head of the Ministry of Health declares that they are not worse than German, Korean or Chinese tests.
Dmytro Synyuka, a former Donbas fighter, is among the founders of the company. A few years ago, he talked about reagents of Ukrainian production, which allow diagnosing pathogens of viral diseases. But it is rather doubtful that the authorized capital of the enterprise, which would provide the whole country with masks, is only 36 USD. The company is engaged in a strikingly diverse range of services: repair of electrical equipment, legal services, purchase and sale of real estate, construction, rental, organization of leisure.
Oleksandr Kolyada, a researcher at the Epigenetics Laboratory of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, speaks of a direct obstruction to Ukrainian production: allegedly, domestic tests hindered the successful multi-million dollar purchase from the Ministry of Health. In addition, according to Kolyada, the ministry refused to provide scientists with control samples from the first patients in Ukraine.
But for a long time, we have been buying tests from China and Korea. In mid-April, the Ministry of Defense signed an agreement with a Chinese company (the same one that we mentioned earlier) for the purchase of tests for 2,5 million USD. Moreover, Schemes online investigation program writes that the contracts from the company are signed by a Ukrainian who works in the structure of the Ministry of Defense.
Lviv Regional Clinical Hospital also did not save on lung ventilation. 150,000 USD was allocated for mechanical ventilation devices. Ksenko company won the tender again. Previously, criminal cases were opened against this company. The media write that it supplied low-quality equipment at inflated prices, including a defective anesthesia machine.
By the way, the Lviv Regional Infectious Clinical Hospital also ordered a FB-15RBS bronchoscope from this company for 20,000 USD, although it can also be found for 13,000 USD.
Overpriced procurement on a lot of Prozorro. Cherkasy Infectious Diseases Hospital acquired guards at 10 USD, which are sold at half the price on the net. The same applies to tenders for special non-contact thermometers.
Frauds on procurement include acquisition of goods that are not related to coronavirus, that is, an attempt to use the simplified procedure. The National Academy of the Border Guard under the guise of coronavirus purchases purchased laptops, trousers, peas, planning to reconstruct the kindergarten in Odesa. The same applies to the purchase of 150,000 USD of furniture and equipment according to a simplified scheme of the Odesa City Infectious Diseases Hospital.
The main task for some "servants of the people" is not to defeat the coronavirus, but simply to take the money. Taxpayers, as well as bona fide Ukrainian entrepreneurs, for whom the struggle for the opportunity to sell high-quality equipment is turning into a struggle with windmills, lose out on this. In the meantime, purchased masks, costumes, apparatuses, and tests can protect only the material condition of those who sold or purchased them, but not doctors or patients.