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Why is Bosnia and Herzegovina so late in Vaccine Procurement?

New day, new promises – Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has an offer to procure a larger amount of vaccines, which are surpluses from Poland and Bulgaria.

The novelty is that the institutions of BiH, the entities, the Brcko District, the county – will be able to directly purchase vaccines from manufacturers because two laws have been changed.

But a question was raised. If it was not according to the law, how did Republika Srpska (RS) manage to procure the Sputnik V vaccine?

BiH could buy three hundred thousand doses of AstraZeneca injection from Poland, while part of the surplus it has could be resold by Bulgaria.

This is new information from Bisera Turkovic, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

It means that we need to buy for the purchase price at which they bought it. So there is no price increase, there is no additional trade. They are ready to sell 300.000 doses for the price at which they bought it, told Bisera Turkovic, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of BiH. 

On Friday night, the deputies of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly, unanimously, added new articles to the Law on Public Procurement and the Law on Medicines.

Next week, the amendments will be in the House of Peoples, but support should not be questioned. In the exemption from the application of the Public Procurement Law, procurement contracts for immunization purposes have been also added.

As for medicines, the Council of Ministers has been designated as the competent authority to authorize institutions for direct procurement from manufacturers in the event of an emergency.

The Council of Ministers of BiH, entity, cantons, and Brcko District governments, or other public body in BiH, under the authority of the Council of Ministers, with the consent of the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medicinal Devices, may procure immunization means through direct contractual relations with manufacturers of medicine and then import them to BiH through legal entities that have obtained an Agency authorization for its placement on the market.

The interesting fact is that, in informal conversations with experts, it remains unclear what was potentiated by the amendments to these two laws, which was not possible before.

The biggest news is that the Council of Ministers is given greater powers because the entities, counties, and other institutions will have to ask them for consent to buy the vaccine directly from the manufacturer.

People who have more inside information believe that this could further slow down the procedures. RS has already procured the Sputnik V vaccine using this principle.

How was it possible, if it was not according to the law that has been in force so far? The former director of the Public Procurement Agency claims that it was all regular.

”The law did not prohibit or prevent anyone from making direct procurement. The law cannot explicitly state all the allegations, but I don’t know if anyone has addressed the Public Procurement Agency regarding that interpretation, ” said Djenan Salcin, former director of the Public Procurement Agency.

Wholesalers, intermediaries, who are generally very careful to get into this business due to the burden of responsibility, remain the main link in this chain.

From “Krajinagroup”, which procures Sputnik V for RS, we received confirmation that the authorities of the Federation of BiH contacted them, but they did not reveal any more details.

The wholesaler Sarajevo/Tuzlafarm is close to purchasing AstraZeneca vaccines.

They will try the option of intervention import, since the institutions have finally stood behind them, and now they are waiting for the approval of the Federal Ministry of Health.

And if things move from a standstill, the public justifiably asks: What they have been waiting for so far?

If laws were an obstacle, then why weren’t they changed earlier? If it was known that most countries started direct negotiations last year because it was clear from the beginning that the conditions and prices of vaccines would be imposed by producers and the market, why was BiH so late?

E.Dz.

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