Ghana needs to establish a Public Health Emergency Fund : Dr. Duut

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Dr. Bedima Duut, Legal Consultant and Berekum Municipal Health Director.
Dr. Bedima Duut, Legal Consultant and Berekum Municipal Health Director.

Ghana needs a robust and resilient health structure to aid research into diseases for timely detection of future epidemics.

Inspit of the strides chalked in the containment of the COVID-19, Ghana was caught pants down at the onset of the outbreak, but we have been able to manage the disease within the shortest possible time, lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic has got Ghana prepared for any future epidemic than it was before.

There’s however the need to set aside resources for critical and unplanned expenses so that we are not found wanting during health emergencies.

SEND GHANA, as part of their advocacy on EPR financing organized a National Stakeholders’ Dialogue highlight the importance of EPR Financing and call for increased domestic investments in Epidemic Preparedness (EP) at the national and district levels and also support the ongoing COVID-19 response in Ghana.

In his presentation on the legislative instruments that support funding for epidemic preparedness on Thursday, 28th April, 2022, at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel in Accra, Dr. Bedima Duut, a Legal Consultant and the Berekum Municipal Health Director, indicated that, “There is no dedicated funding for epidemic preparedness and response in Ghana, and this puts the country at high risk.

He emphasized that, “There is an international treaty that says that all nations must prepare for and respond to epidemics.

Dr. Duut underscored the need for Ghana to create a Public Health Emergency Fund, and the District Assembly Common Fund administrator should modify the fund to include epidemics preparedness.

Be disclosed that, “In 2015, 250 people died of cholera, with 30,000 others affected. Recently, yellow fever killed some 32 people, and about 152 people were affected. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic reportedly claimed the lives of 6 million people worldwide, and in Ghana, about 1500 people have died.”

Dr. Duut, therefore indicated that, “We need to build the capacities of health directorates and workers at the local level for coordination, surveillance, case management and infection prevention and control, risk communication and social mobilization.”

The Municipal Health Director said without adequate funding and proper preparedness for epidemics, the health of citizens could not be guaranteed as presently, no fund had been established directly by the constitution or any law for epidermic preparedness.

Dr. Duut called for the inclusion of epidermic preparedness grants in the formula for the disbursement of the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF).

He stressed on the need for the Ministry of Health (MOH) to establish a Standing Expert Committee on Public Health Emergencies.

“A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among all relevant state agencies should be signed to provide the nature and scope of collaboration during public health emergencies,” he emphasized.

The Municipal Health Director called on the Ministry of Finance to include emergency preparedness activities in the budget guidelines issued for each financial year, stating that a percentage of the total government revenue should be disbursed directly to the Health Departments, through the Assemblies specifically for epidemic preparedness.

Epidemic preparedness constitutes all the activities that must be undertaken from the national to the health facility levels to respond effectively to disease outbreaks.

The elements of an epidemic preparedness include, the need to ensure that a routine surveillance system can detect outbreaks as soon as it occurs, and to ensure that the system is organized to confirm, investigate, and respond to outbreaks.

The UN on the 2021 international Day for Epidemic Preparedness said it was important to strengthen epidemic prevention by applying lessons learnt on epidemic management and how to ensure the continuous delivery of basic health services.

It specifically calls on nations to raise the level of preparedness to have the earliest and most adequate response to an epidemic that might arise.

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