The government has commenced discussions with some COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing companies, with the goal of ordering the suitable doses of vaccines for use in Ghana.
This followed the completion of work by the committee set up by the government to recommend the appropriate decision on a COVID-19 vaccine.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who made this known when he opened the 72nd annual New Year School and Conference in Accra yesterday, said details of the discussions with the manufacturing companies would be made public very soon.
He noted that through the advancement of science, some vaccines were already being administered in some countries to help control and eventually end the pandemic.
The annual 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, Legon.
This year’s two-day school is on the theme: “Building Ghana in the face of global health crisis”.
President Akufo-Addo said the recent upsurge in COVID-19 infections gave an indication that the virus was still alive in the country.
“So we cannot afford to abandon the enhanced hygiene and safety protocols that will ensure that we are faring much better than many other countries, including some well-advanced countries,” he said.
He added that if the COVID-19 protocols were not adhered to, all the work the government was undertaking to build the country in the face of the global health crisis would fail.
The President said prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, Ghana’s economy, for three years running, had been one of the fastest growing in the world, with an average GDP growth rate of seven per cent.
The country was also the largest recipient of foreign direct investment and the biggest net exporter of food in West Africa, he said.
He further indicated that Ghana started adding value to its raw materials, coupled with the roll out of the free senior high school policy, and there was no question that the country had been put on the path of progress and prosperity.
All of a sudden, he said, the pandemic struck, derailing all the gains made.
President Akufo-Addo explained that the lesson from the pandemic was for Ghana to be self-reliant and sufficient.
He gave an assurance that all crucial sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, health, education, trade and industry, remained productive and vibrant.
He said the combined shortfalls in revenue and additional expenditure estimated at GH¢25 billion had led to the revision of the fiscal balance for 2020 from a deficit of 4.7 per cent of GDP to 11. 4 per cent, and gave an assurance that the government was already working to reverse the figures and mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
The President mentioned the measures being taken to address the challenges to include the reduction of the monetary policy rate to 14.5 per cent, which would lead to lower lending rates to support credit extension, and a reduction of the cash reserve requirements from 10 to eight per cent for banks to make liquidity available to lend to critical sectors of the economy.
These and other measures, he said, were ensuring that the economy rebound at a much faster rate than originally anticipated.
He said grants and soft loans to the tune of GH¢600 million had been given to small and medium businesses, while a GH¢2 billion guarantee facility to support large and other businesses had been provided for private schools and pharmaceutical companies.
He said the government recognised that for the country to move towards a developed country status, education was critical, and it was for that reason that the minimum education to be obtained by all schoolchildren was senior high school.
He said with the reopening of schools, the government was determined to ensure the safety of all children in the schools.
President Akufo-Addo emphasised that the COVID-19 had presented Ghana with the opportunity to resolve long-standing challenges in the health sector.
He said the country was able to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), which created business opportunities for the local textile and garment industry.
Furthermore, he said, the government was taking steps to address the deficit in health infrastructure once and for all with the Agenda 111 — upgrading existing district health facilities and establishing new ones where they do not exist.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, said the New Year School and Conference had served as a barometer collecting public opinion for the promotion of good governance and the socio-economic development of the country.
Besides, the annual event had provided an avenue for the university to “shed its Ivory Tower image and actively engage with the public”, he said.
He recounted the roles various sections of the university — the School of Public Health, the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, the University of Ghana Medical School, the West African Centre for Self-Biology of Infectious Pathogens, the School of Pharmacy, among others — had played in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.