With each shipment of medical supplies that we send, I can see MedPLUS growing by leaps and bounds in our ability to explain our model to partner hospitals, meet comfortably and professionally with the Ministry of Health, and deal with the states-side aspects of requesting medical supplies, purchasing transformers, etc, with fewer and fewer last minute crises. However, despite our strong relationship with the MOH and knowing more about the Ghanaian customs process that I ever thought possible (or desirable), we continue to struggle to get exemptions. For all of you that don’t spent your weekends reading up on international customs policies, an exemption is essentially a document that allows a container to pass though customs without paying an import duty.
Because exemptions are ultimately processed by the Ministry of Finance (or the president!) I decided to attempt to cut out a step and meet directly with officials there. Not surprisingly, I was directed and redirected to the offices of different officials, before being told that the Ministry of Health had to first write a “letter” to the Ministry of Finance before anything could be processed. While I do see the importance of accountability between government bodies, I cannot express the frustration with how many times I have been told to get a letter, send a letter, write a letter, sign a letter…from different government officials on behalf of other gov bodies/hospitals/individuals…sigh!