President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said that Ghana is on its way to establishing a fill, finish and packaging manufacturing plant for COVID-19 vaccines.
He said he would visit Germany on February 16, this year, together with the Presidents of Senegal and Rwanda, Mr Maky Sall and Mr Paul Kagame, respectively, to inspect production facilities needed to activate the plant.
"We are going to build a pan-African project with these two sister African states, where initially the fill and finish plant will be located in Ghana.
"BioNtech of Germany, a health and technology company which now works with Pfizer, has agreed to be our partner and will contribute also to the construction of a modular production facility for other vaccines such as those for malaria and tuberculosis in Ghana," he added.
President Akufo-Addo disclosed this when he opened the 73rd annual New Year School and Conference at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon in Accra yesterday.
“It is key that we break the cycle of dependence on foreigners in the fields of science and medicine,” he declared.
“We should never again be in the situation of beggars that we were at the height of the pandemic when we could not access vaccines which were being hoarded by the rich developed nations of the world,” he said.
He stressed that it was not beyond Ghanaian scientists and pharmaceutical companies, whose knowledge and expertise could not be questioned, to produce an indigenous vaccine to combat the virus.
President Akufo-Addo said the government would continue to work proactively to protect the citizenry from the ravages of the pandemic.
He added that it was determined to work with all stakeholders to sail through the COVID-19 crisis and appealed to all Ghanaians to stand shoulder to shoulder with the government to return the nation onto the path of progress and prosperity.
New Year School
The New Year School and Conference is organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education of the College of Education of the University of Ghana.
This year’s engagement is on the theme: “COVID-19 and socioeconomic dynamics in Ghana”.
Among the participants are representatives from the trade unions, metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives, media practitioners, youth leaders, civil and public servants, traditional leaders, civil society organisations and faith-based organisations.
At the end of the conference, the deliberations are expected to shape policies and also provoke public discourse.
President Akufo-Addo urged all Ghanaians to get vaccinated to help end the spread of the virus in the country, saying: “Science tells us that getting vaccinated is the most efficient way to defeat the virus and go back to our normal way of life, reopen fully our economy and return our nation to progress and prosperity.”
According to him, 80 per cent of those currently infected were those who had not been vaccinated, indicating enough testimony of the value of vaccination.
Delivering the keynote address on the theme: “COVID-19 and socioeconomic dynamics in Ghana”, a Medical Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CHILDAccra Medical Group, Dr Juliette M. Tuakli, stressed the need for Ghana to invest in public good, instead of private interest, which she said was a key lesson from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She also called for the strengthening of the country’s health policies, which required data which were critical to the design of government services and programmes.
She said Ghana’s human medical resource remained vague and had highlighted that energy requirement was a critical component in health care.
To that end, she said, a future pandemic preparedness would necessitate a greater commitment of resources.
She said, for instance, that mental health needs now far exceeded available mental health services, while COVID-19-induced social isolation, depression and anxiety in adults, poor communication skills and social anxiety among children were prevalent in the country.
Dr Tuakli, therefore, called for the integration of health and educational systems infrastructure for sustainability.
The World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Mr Pierre Frank Laporte, for his part, acknowledged the fact that the pandemic had wreaked havoc on economies across the world.
He said the first wave of the pandemic was a shock wave that slowed down growth in Ghana, at a time the country was doing very well.
He lauded efforts by the government and said it did the right things for a strong health response.
Mr Laporte further observed that the world was not done with the pandemic and advised the country to bolster the responsiveness of its health system.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, who welcomed the participants, said governments globally were taking steps to recover and rebuild their economies by formulating sound policies and effective plans to help accelerate the pace of economic recovery.
She said notwithstanding the impact of the pandemic, Ghana’s response had been creditable.
Prof. Amfo paid tribute to the organisers of the New Year School since its inception and said it showed the school’s resilience and relevance to national development.
At yesterday’s opening, the Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group of Companies, Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, was named a member of the Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYSC) Corporate Advisory Team.
President Akufo-Addo inaugurated the team and tasked it with the responsibility to advise on how reports of the conference would help advance Ghana's strategic growth.
The team is chaired by a member of the Council of State, Mr Sam Okudzeto.