The Ghana Medical Association (GMA), has called on government to amend and rename the Covid-19 levy as a fund to fight future epidemics and pandemics for effective response to disease outbreaks in the country.
The recent spike of vaccine shortage has reinforced the urgent need for the country to stop relying on foreign countries particularly in times of health emergencies.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Dr Justice Arthur, the Central Regional Chairman for GMA said there should be a sustainable funding since levies through the Consolidated Fund were difficult to track and accounted for, hence, the need to convert the levy to fund health emergencies in the country to ensure effective accountability of its usage.
The establishment of a health emergency fund would help position the country well to tackle health-related emergencies and aid preventions.
“The Consolidated Fund is the principal parliamentary instrument through which government’s revenues are deposited and from which expenditure, via warrants, are withdrawn.
When monies are channeled to the right offices, it can be accounted for and used for the intended purpose” he added.
He called for the immediate establishment of Infectious Disease Hospitals as promised by the Government during the outbreak of COVID-19.
Dr Arthur explained that there should also be a support system for active Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) at various facilities for public health officers to identify public health issues early for prevention.
“The country’s health system is based only on primary health care, which lacks adequate resources and financing,” he said, emphasizing that the health care services were financed by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which was inadequate, affecting the regular supply of medication at various facilities.
The NHIS Levy, he said, should be distinct from the Consolidated Fund to enable the National Health Insurance Authority resource health facilities on time to improve health care delivery in the country.
“Because the NHIS Levy goes into the Consolidated Fund, the Authority does not supply medication early and it affects quality healthcare delivery in the country,” he added.
Touching on the need to invest in healthcare to protect against future outbreaks, Dr Arthur said, there should be sustained availability of funds to support facilities, especially those in rural and remote areas.
“The public health system must be resourced and empowered to track and monitor communities promptly to identify outbreaks early to prevent their spread or avoid negative impacts,” he added.
Dr Arthur said after being resourced and funded, health facility managers should be held accountable for the usage of funds received and the necessary tools and logistics made available to counter emergencies after being resourced.
He advised the Government to implement existing policies and programs to strengthen the healthcare sector.