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26th April, 2021

The World Immunization Week is celebrated annually during the last week of April as a global campaign to raise awareness on the importance of vaccines and immunization in protecting people against vaccine-preventable diseases. Immunization is essential to the wellbeing of everyone; therefore, its importance cannot be overemphasized. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF note that immunization and vaccines save millions of lives every year.

This year’s World Immunization Week theme, “Vaccine Brings Us Closer”, among others, urges greater engagements and conversation around immunization globally and emphasizes how vaccination connects people, helping improve the health of everyone, including ways that promote growth, development, and wellbeing.

To give meaning to the theme, the Ghana Immunization Advocacy Initiative (IAI) Network, comprising SEND GHANA, Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), and Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health (GCNH) plan to hold series of campaign activities. 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.

The Network holds the view that the government’s commitment to immunization financing is low. Presently, the government is utilizing an unspecified portion of the National Health Fund (NHF) to support the procurement of vaccines and routine immunization activities. This may not be sustainable and could present serious challenges for securing vaccines for immunizing children under 5. 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% in 2020 to 7.5% in 2021.

Against this background and further to the IAI intended actions, the network makes the following recommendations for consideration by the government and the African Union (AU).

  1. Find the fiscal space to sustain an increase in budgetary allocation to the health sector, and increasing budget support for the expanded programme on immunization. Revenue realized from COVID-19 levy and any potential revenue influx should be broadened to cover all vaccines and immunization related services.
  1. 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.
  1. Expedite procurement of the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and increase public awareness to ensure that the progress made in addressing vaccine hesitancy within the period is not eroded. Additionally, people living within the meningitis belt must be vaccinated against CSM, and children from the age of 0-2years received all 13 vaccines to protect them against preventable diseases.
  1. Invest in research and development, build the capacity of local pharmaceutical companies to respond to Ghana’s immunization needs and future pandemics through local vaccine manufacturing and development programs.
  1. The AU 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. 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.

Signed

George Osei-Bimpeh

(Country Director, SEND GHANA)

For interviews, please contact:

Harriet Nuamah Agyemang, Senior Programme officer, SEND GHANA (0244982439)

Gladys Damalin, IAI programme Coordinator, HFFG (0244573219)

Bright Amissah-Nyarko, Chairman, GCNH (02011565



Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), has asked Ghanaians to use this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) to highlight and celebrate the contributions of women in the national COVID-19 response.

International Women’s Day is globally marked on March 8th every year to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day is also used as a call to action to accelerate gender parity across all levels. The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.

In line with this theme, HFFG in a press statement is advocating that the day should be used to applaud the efforts of many women, both young and old, who have dedicated themselves as frontline health workers and care-givers in the fight against COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the already existing gender inequalities with substantial implications for women.

“Several briefing notes by the United Nations have bemoaned the socio-economic and health impact of COVID-19 on women. However, the pandemic has also shown the resilience and strength of the Ghanaian woman, be it providing care at various health facilities, participating in risk communication in communities, participating in high level decision-making on resources for health and keeping homes together as wives and mothers,” the statement said.

“The theme is perfect looking at the critical role women are playing in our communities. Women make up a majority of front-line workers. In our health facilities, they are administering vaccines and medications. So if there is any better time for women to be appreciated, it is surely now,” the Executive Director of HFFG, Mrs Cecilia Senoo, stressed.

HFFG has also called on state institutions, civil society, traditional leaders and faith-based organizations to continue to push for the active involvement of women in national development and an end to all forms of violence against women and girls.

“Pandemics such as COVID-19 compound prevailing gender inequalities and vulnerabilities, increasing risks of abuse. We equally join the United Nations and other international and national stakeholders to call for safety and dignity for women in all spheres of life.”

The statement also urged the government of Ghana to put women and girls at the heart of the national COVID-19 recovery efforts since women are harder hit by the impact of COVID-19.