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PRESS RELEASE: GCNH ADVOCATES FOR SUSTAINABLE IMMUNIZATION FINANCING.

Media Release

Date: 30th April, 2020.

Subject: GCNH advocates for sustainable Immunization Financing

Action: For immediate release

Preamble

Ghana could lose all the gains made on immunisation due to the negative impact of COVID-19. Every year between January and June, Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) is intensified to reach out to at least 1,000,000 children with different services, especially 13 Vaccine Preventable Childhood Diseases.

Immunization undoubtedly has played a significant role in Ghana’s Primary Health Care delivery for decades. Ghana boasts of a remarkable coverage of vaccination against preventable diseases for its citizens, particularly children owing to the available financing modalities and programmatic measures put in place by the EPI. The sustainability of this could however be threatened if there is no funding set aside domestically to take care of Ghana’s Immunization Financing, upon Gavi’s exit.

Brief background

As we commemorate the World Immunisation Week (2020), CDC emphasizes the importance of protecting people with vaccines throughout the lifespan and how society can benefit as we collectively pursue this goal.

The social distancing on the other hand being promoted because of COVID-19, is likely to reduce the reach of lactating mothers and for that matter children.

It is adequately on point in observing all the necessary safety protocols to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic but nonetheless, equal attention be given Immunization Service. A case study would be CSM in Northern Ghana each year as seen below;

Fig. 2: CSM cases trend for the 1st Quarter from 2017 to 2020  
Fig. 1: CSM cases for the Jan. to April (btn 2017 and 2020)  

It is known from figures 1 and 2 that Ghana records more of CSM cases in the country particularly in the 1st Quarter each year. Through the efforts of the Ghana Health Service and all other stakeholders, the cases reduced from 480 to 201 between year 2018 and 2019 (though Ghana’s figure increased from 424 from the previous year) for the 1st Quarter. This figure is gradually ascending from 201 to 265 cases for the 1st Quarter (between 2019 and 2020). This therefore calls for a financial commitment from the Government as well as augmenting the collective efforts of all stakeholders to bring these cases to the barest minimum.

As part of the 2020 campaign, WHO and partners aim to:

  • Demonstrate the value of vaccines for the health of children, communities and the world.
  • Show how routine immunization is the foundation for strong, resilient health systems and universal health coverage.
  • Highlight the need to build on immunization progress while addressing gaps, including through increased investment in vaccines and immunization.

The Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health aligning themselves to the aforementioned objectives by WHO and partners, therefore, urge the Civil Society, Religious Leaders, Traditional Leaders, the Various Media Houses and Districts Assemblies to collaborate with Ghana Health Service and use their available strengths they have to encourage mothers to continue to seek for immunisation services for their children amidst this COVID-19 Pandemic era.

Recommendations

We recommend the following complementary and integrated actions in Ghana’s response and management of the Coronavirus (COVID-19):

  1. “Strengthen the national EPI to provide service reminders to lactating mothers through technology”
  2. Civil Society organisations across board must be deeply involved in household education and defaulter tracing.
  3. There is the need for EPI to review its policies and guidelines on Immunization, especially in the use of technology, as well as developing a Communication Strategy to recognize the integration of COVID-19.

In conclusion, Ghana needs to develop Immunization Financing Policy to sustainably respond to the needs of all children under 5 which would ultimately and contribute significantly in the attainment of the Universal Healthcare Coverage Policy.

Signed by:

GABRIEL GBIEL BENARKUU, (PhD)

(NATIONAL CHAIRMAN)

Contacts: +233-208500875

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