Ho,– SEND GHANA, a non-governmental organization, has called on the government to expedite action on procurement of the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as the world marks Immunisation Week.
It called for increased public awareness to ensure that the progress made in addressing vaccine hesitancy was not eroded.
It added that people living within the meningitis belt must be vaccinated against Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) and children from the age of zero to two years received all 13 vaccines to protect them against preventable diseases.
Mr George Osei-Bimpeh, Country Director, SEND GHANA, in a release signed and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), said the outbreak of COVID-19 and CSM in 2020 brought challenges to the health sector, 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 per cent in 2021.”
The World Immunisation Week is celebrated annually during the last week of April as a global campaign to raise awareness on the importance of vaccines and immunisation in protecting people against vaccine-preventable diseases.
It said this year’s World Immunization Week on the theme: “Vaccine Brings Us Closer,” among others, urged greater engagements and conversation around immunization globally.
The statement said it also emphasised how vaccination connected people, helping improve the health of everyone, including ways that promote growth, development, and wellbeing.
It said the Ghana Immunisation Advocacy Initiative (IAI) Network, comprising SEND GHANA, Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), and Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health (GCNH) planned to hold a series of campaign activities “to give meaning to the theme.”
“These include engagement sessions with health system decision-makers on immunization financing at all levels of government, raising awareness on the importance of routine immunization at the community level, and building confidence and trust among citizens, leading to increased vaccine acceptance.”
It added the Network held the view that the 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. This may not be sustainable and could present serious challenges for securing vaccines for immunising children under five.”
It said the Network had made recommendations to the government and the African Union (AU) to set aside a dedicated budget to finance 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 Network also called for investment in research and development, building the capacity of local pharmaceutical companies to respond to Ghana’s immunisation needs and future pandemics through local vaccine manufacturing and development programmes.
The statement said they also recommended that the government and AU “find the fiscal space to sustain an increase in budgetary allocation to the health sector, and increasing budget support for the expanded programme on immunisation.
“Revenue realised from COVID-19 levy and any potential and revenue influx should be broadened to cover all vaccines immunization related services.”
It said it was also recommended that the AU 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.
“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.”
Source: Ghana News Agency