Frontiers Healthcare Services Denounces Corruption Allegations, Issues Disclaimer

by Oluwatosin Alabi

Following the recent media reporting of allegations of wrongdoing raised against Frontiers Healthcare Services (“FHS”) for its running of the Airport Covid-19 testing project by one Okudzeto Ablakwa, FHS, by this communique, debunks and vehemently rejects these allegations as false, baseless and a complete fabrication being propagated by persons seeking political gain from causing unsubstantiated controversies. It is rather unfortunate that what ought to be hailed as one of the greatest achievements of our nation during the pandemic, has rather been wrought with so much controversy and negative press owing to the politically polarised nature of our dear nation. Having emphatically denied the aforementioned allegations, FHS responds to same as follows:


The reopening of the country’s air borders in the midst of the pandemic was made possible by the introduction of this innovative system focused on arresting the potential inflow and onward transmission of the virus to the resident population of Ghana. Frontiers Healthcare Services was established during the pandemic to develop and introduce decisive and functional interventions necessary to address the desperate urgencies resulting from the prevalence of the pandemic threatening to decimate the country, its people, and fortunes. Critically, its focus was to provide solutions aimed at restoring normalcy for international travel and economic activity by providing a reliable and effective rapid screening system at the country’s borders for all travellers. This intervention required sacrifice, commitment and expending and deploying huge resources in an emergency circumstance on an extremely urgent basis. It required that capacity and capability is mobilised from within and outside the country in a manner unprecedented not only within the country but, at the time, even globally. The sole object was to save lives by limiting the spread through migration. Having identified the inefficient and inconvenient system of travel where travellers had to be quarantined for days until a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test came negative, which process was a hinderance to travel, FHS invested in hundreds of cutting-edge, automated, testing machines that offered a comprehensive and efficient solution to cure the undue delay in the travel process. Accordingly, FHS submitted a proposal to the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) for consideration. On 1 September 2020, the Republic of Ghana, through FHS, was indeed the first country in the world to deploy and commence rapid testing on international arriving passengers for the novel COVID-19 virus at Kotoka International Airport.

The National Covid-19 Task Force, the team of experts set up and authorized by the Government of Ghana to develop and oversee measures to combat the pandemic, as part of its mandate, recommended a two-tier approach to testing. GACL then required a set-up at the airport to undertake the destination screening and this is where FHS’s proposal became relevant. There was a two-week window within which to set up and deploy the FHS system which included two clean air laboratories, testing cubicles, equipment, and human resource. It is FHS’s view that no government agency or national laboratory could have marshalled the resources needed to set up this testing infrastructure so quickly. Additionally, the turn-around-time for tests at the existing national laboratories was already up to seven (7) days! Further, it is important to take cognisance of the fact that no one, at that time, knew how long the pandemic was going to last. Clearly, this uncertainty posed an extreme risk for any investment made into the testing infrastructure.


FHS employed a sophisticated Automated Immunoassay System that was proven to have unbeatable accuracy. This equipment was independently tested by Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the Laboratory Division of the National Covid-19 Task Force and found to be highly efficient and safe. Indeed, independent studies conducted by JH Ryu, et al. showed that this system had a sensitivity and specificity of 99.8% and 99.3% respectively (

The FHS solution employed over three hundred (300) laboratory scientists and two hundred (200) support and administrative staff to run a complex operation which ensured a quick and efficient service to travelers 24 hours a day, every day of the week a break in operations. Testing booths were set up at both wings of the arrival hall to take nasopharyngeal swabs for testing. 70 cubicles were set up to do this. Depending on the traffic, this set-up could take up to 2100 samples per hour! Lab scientists ran four shifts, so they did not have to be exposed for more than 6 hours per day. FHS therefore had to have enough staff to cover these shifts. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) they wore were disposable and very expensive! Samples taken were labelled with the digital barcodes generated at the banking hall. The two state-of-the-art, clean air laboratories had 80 machines for conducting the automated fluorescence immunoassay tests on the samples taken. The machines could deliver up to 2000 test results in an hour! (400 tests every 12 minutes). The results were then entered directly into the Ghana Health Service’s Port Health database for Port Health officers to be able to isolate passengers who tested positive at their screening points. This was a feat no country could boast of.

Contrary to the falsehood the propagandists would have the good people of Ghana believe, this venture was no cheap scratch-and-go antigen testing system available on the market! Considering the high fatal threat presented by the pandemic and the capability for the ever mutating nature of the virus, we presented a highly sophisticated ana robust system that would efficiently detect any variant and isolate all positive cases in order to greatly curb the high mortality rate in Ghana and as was the case around the world. Without a robust testing system, many positive cases would have slipped into the country and wreaked havoc and extreme destruction of precious lives.


Considering the sophistication of test done and the massive investment in infrastructure (including laboratories, testing cubicles, equipment, reagents, etc), human resource (more than 500 staff), rent and electricity, royalties, and logistics (especially Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other infection control measures), it was impractical to charge less than One Hundred and Fifty United States Dollars ($150) at the beginning even at that it was the cheapest fee charged anywhere in the world at the time and was 100% more efficient than its closest competition. Over hundreds of laboratory scientists were on duty daily, running four shifts, and each individual using disposable high-grade PPEs that were not cheap. All staff were fed as well to minimise the risk of spreading the virus if they had to go and find food for themselves outside of the airport. The shift that closed at midnight were mostly kept in hotels overnight as they could not return to their homes safely and early enough to rest and prepare for the next day. Given what was not known about the Pandemic, and the risk associated with the unknown duration of the testing requirement, it is understandable that the cost was at that level initially.


The arrangement between FHS and the Government of Ghana was regulated by a duly negotiated executed contract robustly negotiated by world class professionals on either side. There was a global pandemic that was killing people at an alarming rate and destroying the nation’s economy. It would be wrong for government to, at the material moment, be aiming at making money off screening travellers coming into the country. The government’s responsibility and goal at that time was to facilitate easy and affordable international travel to get the economy back on track!

GACL has standard terms for concessions at the airport and these terms were complied with by FHS. This contract earned GACL rent and royalties and created jobs for hundreds of Ghanaian youths at a time when unemployment was high on account of the pandemic. It is also worthy of note that the government did not contribute financially to the setting up of the infrastructure and the running of operations at the airport. It was fully funded by FHS. The Port Health Team (GHS) were also supported by FHS with logistics to help the team deliver on their mandate efficiently. FHS also donated one of the laboratories to the Ghana Health Service at the end of the contract. The government was in no way short-changed by FHS. It is misleading for anyone to fabricate figures and announce them as profits when clearly, there is a difference between total income and profits. A breakdown and analysis of the relevant figures are attached to this clarification.


Of the most ill-founded, dubious, and malicious allegations that have been made about this project, the most absurd centres around the fabricated assertion that FHS enjoys some form of support from the government. But for its quite serious imputation, we would have ignored this allegation. FHS uses this opportunity to state that it has no connection with any official of the government whatsoever. We refute and reject, in the strongest terms, any suggestion that we have any connection, affiliation or relationship with any member of the government. Any allegation of government patronage is expressly denied and repudiated. There is no truth, whatsoever, in any such suggestion. This allegation is plainly mischievous, unwarranted and conjectural, deriving its origin from those whose motivations must be driven by an inexplicable disposition to unjustifiably disparage a truly outstanding intervention that has saved Ghanaian lives in a period of truly testing challenge to the nation’s safe existence. Those that are responsible for this disgraceful and unfounded denigration must, in the light of its huge success, feel themselves sufficiently discomfited to resile from the hopelessly embarrassing spectacle that they have now made of themselves.


By setting the records straight as above, it is believed that the good people of Ghana would come to appreciate the important role FHS played in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Our belief is that the considerable efforts that we made to keep Ghana safe in a particularly testing time for global health through the challenge by the Covid – 19 pandemic was appreciated by the vast majority of our people. This is exemplified by the high praise for the hundreds of young men and women who risked their lives in joining the fight at the cutting-edge of the pandemic-battlefront, on a daily basis, to keep our homeland safe and to protect lives. By contrast, in many western countries, health workers resigned on account of heavy workloads as well as fear for their lives and the lives of their families during the pandemic. Those who have raised needless, unsubstantiated controversies through distortions, fabrications, lies and half-truth being propagated to denigrate a world-class intervention that saved thousands of Ghanaian lives in order to secure some form of political advantage must hang their heads in shame. This fellow by whatever name he is called has done a huge disservice to those who benefitted from the project; those whose lives were saved by the preventive action of comprehensive testing and for the nation of Ghana as a whole. Casting the heroes of this venture as villains does nothing to stain a sterling and important contribution to Ghana’s enviable Covid-19 prevention measures. May we learn to celebrate our heroes. As the Akan adage goes, “se nipa ye adie a, o se ayeyi. Se wu enyi na ye a, men sei ni din”. To wit, “If someone does good, he deserves to be praised. If you won’t praise him/her, at least, don’t spoil their name.”


Frontiers Healthcare Services

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