Expand COVID-19 fund/levy into public health emergency fund – NGOs

The Ghana Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations in Health (GCNH) has advocated the expansion of the COVID-19 fund and levy into a national public health emergency fund, to aid epidemic response.
Members of the coalition is expecting to see clear-cut allocations for epidemic financing in the budget for 2022.

“Allocating monies and resources to finance epidemic is something we need to start doing now, in the budget we should have clear lines on the amount of money allocated to the containment of epidemics in the country,”

Mr Bright Amissah, President of the Coalition said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

He said in the last two years amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana has experienced other epidemic like meningitis and yellow fever, which required the assistance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to keep them under control.

Mr Amissah explained that, “epidemic do not just come and leave, it impacts on our healthcare system may be catastrophic.

He said COVID-19 has had negative impacts on families and their works, hence, the need for the government to allocate money to help gather resources to address epidemics.

The pandemic has revealed critical gaps in epidemic preparedness across low-, middle- and high-income countries, resulting in devastating social, economic and health impacts.

The coalition argued that a country’s sustained investment in and prioritization of preparedness for disease threats and readiness to act when outbreaks strike could fundamentally alter the trajectory of an epidemic and determine the number of lives, jobs, and monies to be saved.

Epidemic preparedness according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) constitutes all the activities that must be undertaken from the national to the health facility levels to be ready to respond effectively to disease outbreaks.

The need for countries to adequately prepare for epidemics and pandemics by allocating funds and boosting the health infrastructure and workforce has lately become topical due to the havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Epidemic preparedness according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) constitutes all activities that are undertaken from the national to the health facility levels to be ready to respond effectively to disease outbreaks.

One of the WHO benchmarks for International Health Regulations (IHR) capacities is for countries to have financing available for the timely response to epidemics and pandemics.

But Ghana is yet to meet this benchmark after a recommendation for the establishment of a public health emergency fund, following the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of Ghana’s IHR capacities in 2017.

The Health Minister, Mr Kwaku Agyeman- Manu told the Ghana News Agency that Ghana’s 1992 Constitution mandated the nation to establish an emergency fund to attend to public health and other emergencies.

He said Ghana was preparing to establish a Center for Disease Control (CDC) and that would set the pace to keep the health emergency fund active.

Dr Justice Yankson, Vice President of the Ghana Medical Association, told the GNA that regarding epidemic preparedness, in general, hospitals prepare for a lot of different events and make sure they have surge capacity in many different areas.

These include the provision of adequate equipment, space, and staff, coupled with coordinated efforts to increase health sector capacity.

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a message on the International Day on Epidemic Preparedness, December 27, last year said, there was an urgent need to have resilient and robust health systems, reaching those who are vulnerable or in vulnerable situations.

He said it was important for countries to strengthen epidemic prevention by applying lessons learnt on epidemic management and how to prevent the stoppage of basic services.

Mr Guterres stresses the need for countries to raise the level of preparedness to have the earliest and most adequate response to any epidemic that may arise, recognizing also the value of an integrated health approach that fosters integration of human health, animal health and plant health, as well as environmental and other relevant sectors.

Source: GNA

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