Explore new ways of financing public health emergencies – Discussants

Discussants at a roundtable discussion have underscored the need for the country to explore new ways of financing public health emergencies, in order to prepare adequately for future emergencies.

According to the discussants, the need to explore new ways of financing had become important due to changes in demographics, disease patterns, donor landscape and variable domestic revenue mobilisation per a presentation by the Duke University delivered in Accra on Monday.

The discussants gave the recommen­dations at the maiden edition of the Dean’s inaugural quarterly seminars or­ganised by the School of Public Health, University of Ghana (UG) in collabora­tion with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Funded by the Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, United State of America (USA), the seminar was to provide a platform for policy makers and relevant stakeholders to share ideas on key health issues of national concern.

The Health Economist at the World Bank, Ghana, Mr Enoch Oti Agyekum, noted that for Ghana to address the is­sue of public health emergencies financ­ing, it needed to adopt strategic measures that would improve its preparedness against emer­gencies and pandemics.

He explained that, it might be unrealistic to ask the gov­ernment to increase investment into public health emergencies preparedness due to the impact of current issues such as the Russia-Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Mr Agyekum said the World Bank had in its emer­gency financing project some contingency components such as the Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF) which was activated during emergencies to support countries for which Ghana could leverage on.

Additionally, Mr Agyekum said, “it is about time govern­ment channel the donor fund through its own system to show the development agencies that they have good public finance management system that is able to give accountability”.

On his part, the Head of Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Health (MoH), Dr Eric Nsiah-Boateng, called for the extension of the COVID-19 recovery levy to cover other health and clinical emergencies.

A Public Health Consultant and Health System and Policy Analyst, Dr Koku Awoo­nor-Williams, during the discus­sion emphasised on the need for government to conduct serious mapping in relation to the involvement of the private sector in public health emer­gencies financing.

The President of the Phar­maceutical Society of Ghana, Mr Samuel Kow Donkoh, in his submission said there was the need for some form of funding to be made available for pharmaceutical companies to enable them produce enough medicines before pandemic and epidemic outbreaks.

He also entreated the govern­ment to have in place a national preparedness plan for future pandemics by identifying possible medicals and pharmaceuticals that would be needed based on disease trends.

Delivering the keynote address on behalf of the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Ma­nu, the Director of Infrastruc­ture at the MoH, Mr Benjamin Ampomah Nkansah said “the COVID-19 pandemic had taught us the need to priorities financing of public health emergencies”.

He was hopeful that government initiatives such as the COVID-19 recovery levy and other forms of levy established by African and World leaders would help avert the impact of pandemics in the health sector.

In his closing remarks, the Chair­person and Country Representa­tive for WHO, Ghana, Dr Francis Chisaka Kasolo said “Ghana is not short of strategic documents that can finance for health. What we need to do is to push emergency response into a holistic type of programme”.


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