Epidemic preparedness financing is something we cannot do without – health expert
The Central Regional Director in charge of Health Promotions at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ms. Eunice Joan Teah, has stressed that “epidemic preparedness financing is something we cannot do without” as a nation.
Her conviction is based on the fact that “you cannot tell when there will be an outbreak of an epidemic”, hence the need to prepare adequately in order to respond to epidemics timely in the event they occur.
She was of the view that when epidemics happened at any point in time, it required adequate logistics and well-equipped human resources and that could only be achieved when provisions “are made through advanced preparations.”
“When epidemics occur; to respond, we need logistics, and that cannot be mobilised within a short time if there is no allocated budget to work with. And if the logistics are not available, you and I know that the response will delay,” Ms. Teah explained in an interview with Graphic Online.
She noted that whether people would receive the needed care or logistical support during epidemics or outbreaks depended on how well a country prepared itself for such unforeseen events, hence the need for the country to set up a fund that would help to respond to such emergencies.
She said the country would only count its losses should it ignore or turn a deaf ear to the need to set up epidemic preparedness and response fund.
For her, everybody’s life would be at stake should there be an outbreak of diseases without any preparation, stressing that when there is an outbreak of any disease, “it basically affects everything.”
M. Teah explained, for instance, in the early part of 2023, there were cases of people coughing in many parts of the country, noting that such an issue ought to have been investigated immediately in order to establish the cause of the cough.
She noted that epidemic preparedness and financing were key to the well-being of any society, particularly at this time that there had been cases of emerging diseases.
She said when systems are built to deal with epidemics, health workers would be able to contain such epidemics on time and they would never be overwhelmed by the situations.
Citing COVID-19, for instance, Ms. Teah, observed that many health systems were overwhelmed during COVID-19 due to a lack of preparation for an outbreak of such magnitude.
She said COVID-19 should serve as a great lesson to all nations, particularly developing countries such as Ghana to prepare itself for such events.
Ms. Teah said epidemics preparedness financing would help to provide effective and efficient care for citizens when there was an outbreak of any kind and magnitude. On the contrary, if there “is no provisions made for it”, it would in the long run cripple the entire economy, which would ultimately have dire consequences on people’s health.
“If epidemics occur and there no logistics, we cannot respond to the situation and within a short time, many people will be infected and others may die and the situation will ultimately get out of hand,” she explained.
For her, considering the importance of epidemic preparedness financing and response, every stakeholder should take an interest in the matter for the country to realise it.
“…from where I stand as a health promotion specialist, I will say that all stakeholders need to have their hands on deck to ensure they get funding set aside to respond to this,” Ms. Teah noted.
She particularly called on the media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to lead advocacy in getting the government to set up epidemic preparedness and response fund in the country.
For her, the country would be the ultimate beneficiary should the fund be set up, pointing out that when the fund is set up and well managed, many benevolent individuals and corporate bodies would all contribute to it.
“But when we prepare, it reduces the impact because a lot of things will be carried out smoothly to prevent the devastating impact on the population...so it will be to the benefit of all of us to have such a funding facility in place,” Ms. Teah noted.
“I think advocacy must start and there must be engagements then it becomes a topic for discussion by everybody and then the leadership or the government begins to hear when the NGOs are talking, the media is talking. If we can have the media houses setting up plans to talk about the issue from one media house to the other, that will be very helpful,” she suggested.
She also encouraged the public to report any health information or condition they are unfamiliar with to the nearest health facilities so that such issues could be investigated in time for remedies to be prescribed.
“So, going forward for us, to be able to detect early and help to contain the situation, the public must be on the lookout for a condition that is abnormal and report to the nearest health facility and encourage their people to also report to the nearest health facility for diagnosis and proper treatment and management, Ms. Teah explained.