We need dedicated fund for epidemics- Specialist

Mr Stephen Atasige, In-country Coordinator, Preventing Epidemics Programme, has called on government and stakeholders in the health sector to establish a dedicated fund for epidemic control and financing.

He said the fund would help in controlling unexpected epidemics at their initial stages and mitigate the adverse effects.

“COVID-19 has taught us a lesson on the need to have a special fund to handle epidemics before they become devastating,” he said.

Mr Atasige made the call at a forum to collate inputs into the 2022 National Budget Statement and Economic policy on health financing.

The event organised by SEND Ghana was aimed at seeking the inputs of stakeholders into the 2022 budget with a special focus on immunisation, epidemic financing and general health.

Mr Atasige said the fund needed to be decentralized so that health centres at the community and district level could handle epidemics when they occur in their localities.

He said the government could do this by dedicating a portion of the District Assembly and Members of Parliament (MPs) Common Fund into the epidemic fund.

The Epidemic Control Coordinator said there was a need for enhanced infrastructure and facilities at health centres to facilitate the treatment of epidemics.

“In the treatment of epidemics, we need well-resourced health centres that will be capable to contain the spread. Here, we are looking at establishing isolation and quarantine centres across the country,” he added.

Reverend Ebenezer Asiamah, District Director of Health Services, Shai Osodoku District, said health officers relied on Internally Generated Funds (IGF) for transportation during immunization activities, which he described as worrisome.

He said some health facilities did not have cold-chain refrigerating facilities to store vaccines, thereby, making them unsafe for immunization.

The District Health Director said most health officers were unwilling to accept postings to remote areas and this resulted in inadequate health professionals in the rural areas.

He urged the government and other stakeholders to provide adequate incentives to health professionals in rural areas to encourage others to accept posting to such areas.

Dr Emmanuel Ayifah, Deputy Country Director, SEND Ghana, said there was inadequate funding in the health sector, especially with epidemic funding hence the need to advocate for funding in the sector.

He reiterated that epidemics required swift response and reactions, saying, “we need to be proactive as a country to absorb the challenges that come along with them.”

“Epidemics require quick response and reactions as a country and there is the need to be proactive to absorb the shocks that come along with them,” he added.

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