Accra,— The Ghana Immunisation Advocacy Initiative (IA1) Network is to hold series of campaign activities to celebrate this year’s World Immunisation Week, celebrated annually during the last week of April.
The Network, comprising SEND-Ghana, Hope for Future Generation (HFFG), and Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health (GCNH) plans to engage health system decision-makers on immunisation financing at all levels of government.
In a press statement, the Network said the week was a global campaign to raise awareness on the importance of vaccines and immunisation in protecting people against vaccine-preventable diseases.
This year’s celebration is on the theme: “Vaccine Brings Us Closer,” aimed at urging greater engagements and conversations around immunisation globally and emphasising how vaccination could connect people and help improve the health of everyone, including ways to promote growth, development and wellbeing, it said.
The statement said immunisation was essential to the wellbeing of everyone, thereby, its importance could not be overemphasised, adding that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF had noted that immunisation and vaccines saved millions of lives every year.
The Network held the view that government’s commitment to immunisation financing was low.
“Presently, the government is utilising an unspecified portion of the National Health Fund (NHF) to support the procurement of vaccines and routine immunisation activities,’’ it said, adding that that may not be sustainable and could present serious challenges for securing vaccines for immunising children under five years.
‘’The outbreak of COVID-19 and Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) in 2020 brought additional challenges to the health sector, further exposing the existential financial gaps faced by the sector. Despite this, the budgetary allocation as its percentage share of the National Budget experienced a marginal decline from 7.66 percent in 2020 to 7.5 percent in 2021,” it said.
Against that background and further to the IAI intended actions, the Network made recommendations for consideration by the Government and the African Union (AU) including finding the fiscal space to sustain an increase in budgetary allocation to the health sector.
“Increased budget support for the expanded programme on immunisation and revenue realised from COVID-19 levy and any potential revenue influx should be broadened to cover all vaccines and immunisation related services,” it added.
It recommended that government should set aside a dedicated budget to finance Epidemic Preparedness and implementation of the National Action Plan for Health Security as well as the Ghana Centre for Disease Control to respond to the threat of epidemics.
Additionally, it said people living within the meningitis belt should be vaccinated against the CSM, and children from the age of 0 to two years should receive all 13 vaccines to protect them against preventable diseases.
The statement said procurement of the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should be expedited and public awareness increased to ensure that the progress made in addressing vaccine hesitancy within the period was not eroded.
The AU, it said, should explore ways to harness the potential of Agenda 2063 and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to promote continent-based solutions to the health needs of the people.
It said: “As a medium to long-term approach, the AU could begin to produce vaccines within, to increase vaccine security and reduce procurement from outside the continent”.
Government should invest in research and development, build the capacity of local pharmaceutical companies to respond to Ghana’s immunisation needs and future pandemics through local vaccine manufacturing and development programmes, it said.
Source: Ghana News Agency