SEND Ghana has asked the government to use revenues from the Covid-19 levy and any windfall to cover vaccines and immunisation related services in the country.

Government must also set aside a dedicated budget to finance epidemic preparedness and implementation of the National Action Plan for Health Security and the Ghana Centre for Disease Control to respond to the threat of epidemics.

Dr Emmanuel Ayifah, Deputy Country Director of SEND GHANA, who made the call, said the move would ensure increased domestic funding for immunisation services to sustain the gains made in the sector in the country.

He was speaking at a National Engagement with Regional Level Health System Decision-makers on Immunisation Financing held in Tamale.

It was to gather evidence on immunisation financing and logistics gaps beyond the remit of MMDAs and regional level health system decision-makers.

The event, which was on the theme: “Vaccines bring us closer: Financing Immunisation removes barriers to access,” was also to mark this year’s World Immunisation Week celebration.

It was organised by SEND GHANA, a civil society organisation, and participants included representatives of Regional Health Directorates, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, some Civil Society Organisations and the media drawn from regions, including the Greater Accra, Northern, and Upper West.

It formed part of the Immunisation Advocacy Initiative being implemented in selected regions and districts by SEND GHANA in partnership with the African Population and Health Research Center to advocate for increased domestic financing of immunisation activities.

The government has committed to the Global Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) co-financing obligation plan.

Per the transition plan, GAVI will exit in 2026 and the whole expenses of immunisation including vaccines, health system strengthening, logistics, operational cost, injection safety support amongst others will be wholly accommodated by the government.

However, the government has not been able to commit enough resources to increase domestic funding for immunisation in line with the GAVI arrangement.

Dr Ayifah said presently, the government was utilising an unspecified portion of the National Health Fund to support the procurement of vaccines and routine immunisation activities.

He said, “Although laudable, this may not be sustainable and could present serious challenges for securing vaccines for immunising children under five years.”

He emphasised that “The time to prioritise domestic financing for immunisation is now” calling on the government to “Invest in research and development, build the capacity of local pharmaceutical companies to respond to Ghana’s immunisation needs and future pandemics through local vaccine manufacturing and development programmes.”

Dr Akosua Sika Ayisi, Deputy Director of Public Health, Greater Accra Region, expressed the need to deploy technology into immunisation activities to gather accurate data and on a timely basis for programmatic and planning purposes.

Other participants called on the government to set up an independent immunisation fund to be managed by the Expanded Programme on Immunisation and to track the allocation and use of the fund to prevent any form of misappropriation.

Others called on the government to ensure financial clearance for the recruitment of key staff as well as decentralise recruitment of staff into the health sector to avoid the situation where some personnel refused postings to deprived communities.

They also called for the construction and furnishing of CHPs compounds in various communities to increase immunisation in those communities.