The Deputy Country Director of SEND Ghana, Dr. Emmanuel Ayifah, PhD, has underscored the need for the Government of Ghana to strategically increase domestic financing for health, by prioritizing immunization.
According to him, Ghana is currently in the Gavi preparatory transition phase, entering the accelerated transition phase in 2022 and expected to fully transition in 2027, implying that Government has to fully finance vaccines and related logistics.
Since Government recognizes the role of citizens in the development of national budgets, it has provided the opportunity for citizens to submit desired budget proposals into the national budgets on yearly basis through the Ministry of Finance.
Dr. Emmanuel Ayifah, in an interview with the media disclosed that, it is based on this that SEND GHANA, on Thursday 10th June, 2021, organized a one day inputs forum for citizens to make submissions on immunization financing and epidemic preparedness into the 2022 national budget, under the Ghana IAI and Epidemics preparedness projects, through its PM&E networks.
He indicated that, SEND Ghana, has been organizing forums on the citizens’ input into the budget statement and economic policy, since 2015, with respect to issues bothering on health, education and agriculture to solicit their input into the budget.
SEND GHANA, he said is of the view that, COVID-19 has exposed gaps within the country’s health system. Saying, “This is evident in the shortage of PPE to ARVs and infection among a number of health workers. In addition, the country still records cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) related deaths almost on an annual basis.”
He also noted that, there has been a number of complaints of lack of refrigerators to keep vaccines at the required temperature for immunisation in some districts.
This, he said calls for the urgent need for the government to prioritize the establishment of an epidemic fund to guarantee its preparedness towards sustainable financing in the absence of doner partners.
“This ‘Citizens’ alternative budget’ will be presented to the Ministries of Finance and Health, the Expanded Programme on Immunization and the Ghana Health Service, for solutions.” He said.
Presenting SEND GHANA’S report on PHG, the In-country Coordinator for Preventing Epidemics Programme, Mr. Stephen Atasige, expressed how important PHC service addresses the majority of a person’s health needs in their life.
Inspite of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting PHC services in the country, the report said “SEND GHANA is positive the government and the Ministry of Health would consider implementing the proposed recommendations by stakeholders to enhance quality and effective PHC delivery, especially in the remotest parts of the country, considering that effective PHC delivery is critical in our quest to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).”
It also added amidst all that, “Outreach services and home visits were suspended in some areas, clients spent less time with doctors, reported shortage of Personal Protective Equipment and medications for some chronic conditions, the unavailability of vital signs services to monitor health status, and dispensing of different drug combinations for PLHlVs, causing some untold side effects on patients.”
According to the report, despite the Abuja Declaration, that charges nations to invest at least 15% of their gross domestic product (GDP) or budgetary allocation to health, very little has been done with respect to preparedness to fund epidemic.
It further disclosed that, “We have fallen far short of that for too long. Epidemic preparedness, as we see, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, has shown that we need to be proactive by dedicating funds to epidemic preparedness, so that we do not face the shocks that come with it.”