Establish Public Health Emergency Fund – government urged

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Kwaku Agyeman Manu
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu

Representatives of District Assemblies and District Health Management Teams from the northern part of the country have appealed to the government to establish a Public Health Emergency Fund (PHEF) to support the health sector to prevent epidemics.

They argued that while the health sector needed a lot of funds to strengthen it to tackle disease outbreaks and epidemics, the budgetary allocations to the sector were not only inadequate but also not disbursed in the right amounts hence the need for a PHEF to generate more funds for the sector.

They made the appeal at a zonal learning and sharing engagement in Tamale on the prioritisation of allocations to epidemic preparedness.

It was for participants, made up of representatives from various District Assemblies and District Health Management Teams from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, to share best practices on epidemic preparedness, financing and response.

The districts included Lambusie, Wa, Bawku, Kasena-Nankana, Tatali-Sangule, Tamale, and Gushegu, Yendi.
It was organised by SEND GHANA, a civil society organisation, as part of its activities under the project dubbed: “Advocacy for Epidemic Preparedness Financing”, which is funded by the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI).

The Advocacy for Epidemic Preparedness Financing project seeks to contribute towards epidemic preparedness in the country by holding the government accountable for the commitment it has made to prioritise and increase budgetary allocation and disbursement to epidemic preparedness financing and response activities by strengthening health infrastructure, equipment, and human resources.

Mr Mohammed Abdulai, Tatali-Sangule District Director of Health, who made a presentation on epidemic preparedness planning and budgeting, said “We just learnt lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. When it occurred, we really did not have any source of funding and we had to be running round to put things in order.”

He said “The COVID-19 really exposed the health system; we are not resilient. We really did not know that such a thing could occur and take us on. So, it is important that PHEF is established. We cannot say that diseases will not occur. We can only prepare for them so that we are not taken unawares.”

Madam Rashida Mohammed, Yendi Municipal Planning Officer said “It is important for the nation and for that matter at MMDAs to have PHEF because during the COVID-19 pandemic, we struggled to quarantine people and to put measures to contain it. If we had the PHEF, it would have been easy to rely on it. The PHEF is actually a need.”

Mr Fayi Simon, Focal Person, SEND GHANA, and Lambusie District Information Officer in the Upper West Region said “The PHEF will enable us to take care of other health emergency issues that will be coming in future. The lessons we learnt from not having the fund tell us that we need the fund. I think establishing the PHEF is in the right direction.”

Mr Mohammed Mumuni, Regional Programme Manager of SEND GHANA spoke about the project saying “We have been implementing the project with these districts over the last two years to ensure that they prioritise epidemic preparedness financing and response. We observed that the districts are at different levels of the response rate. So, we needed to bring them together to share experiences and best practices such that they can learn from one another.”

Mr Mumuni said “The practical issue about epidemic preparedness financing and response is the fact that it is the local level that we need the resources to be committed, and at that level is the district assemblies that are in-charge.

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