SEND GHANA, a subsidiary of SEND Foundation of West Africa and civic actors, have called on the government to prioritise immunisation and epidemic preparedness financing in the 2022 national budget.
They said Ghana regularly experienced disease outbreaks, including cholera, influenza, meningitis and measles as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which posed a major public health challenge.
“Disease outbreaks lead to increased morbidity and mortality, affect the livelihoods of individuals and households and collapse businesses.”
Dr Emmanuel Ayifah, Deputy Country Director, SEND GHANA, in a statement signed and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), said besides the fatalities, unpredictable disease outbreaks often exposed vulnerabilities in the health sector, stalled economic growth and worsened poverty and inequality.
The release said the high case fatalities from disease outbreaks underscored a clear need for the government to prioritise domestic financing for immunisation and epidemic preparedness in the budget statement and economic policy for 2022 and beyond.
It noted that the government must set aside a dedicated budget in line with international benchmarks through the annual national budget to finance immunisation and epidemic preparedness and implementation of the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) as well as the Ghana Centre for Disease Control to respond to the threat of epidemics.
The statement said the government must find a fiscal space to sustain an increase in budgetary allocation to the health sector and increased budgetary support for the expanded programme on immunisation.
It also called for the COVID-19 levy to be broadened to cover all vaccines, including immunisation-related services and epidemic response and empower relevant government entities to track and regularly report on NAPHS implementation progress and spending.
The statement stated that the government must earmark one per cent of the District Assemblies Common Fund to support immunisation and epidemic preparedness at the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies levels to inspire local level preparedness and response.
It further called for the government’s encouragement of the private sector to annually increase support to the health sector through the Ghana COVID-19 Private Sector Fund to provide a prompt response to future health crises.
The release said Ghana’s geographic location, population size, and role as a trade and travel hub made it increasingly vulnerable to disease spreads.
SEND GHANA in partnership with the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), organised a day forum on the theme: “Sustaining Domestic Financing for Immunisation and Epidemic Preparedness in Ghana: The Role of National and Local Government in the 2022 Budget and Beyond.”
The forum discussed strategies to ensure sustained and increased annual domestic financing for immunisation and epidemic preparedness in Ghana’s annual national budget statement and economic policies.
It was attended by members of civil society organisations, academia, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health and Local Government, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, District Health Management Teams, traditional authorities, religious leaders, and the media.