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Prioritise immunisation funding - Ho MP, HFFG

BY: Jemima Achivors

Thousands of children in Ghana will be at risk of catching preventable childhood diseases if government does not increase funding for immunisation programmes.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) have warned that at least 80 million children under one globally are at risk of diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio as COVID-19 disrupts routine vaccination efforts.

Under GAVI, Ghana's co-financing obligations for 2019 was $5.1 million which had been fulfilled.

On average, about 80 per cent vaccines cost for routine immunisation is financed by GAVI while government finances 20 per cent.

The government is expected to increase its co-financing share for vaccines to 100 per cent by 2027.

In Ghana, donor transition and fatigue means that the government has to increase funding in its budgetary allocation for the maintenance of immunisation programmes.

Concerns

Hope For Future Generations (HFFG), an NGO, has raised concerns that low government budget allocation to health, especially for goods and services over the years, is affecting commitments to co-financing obligations to the GAVI among others.

The Executive Director of HFFG, Mrs Cecilia Senoo, said for Ghana to finally fund its own immunisation programme, there would be a need to mobilise domestic resources as the best approach towards self sustainability.

The organisation is currently advocating roles for government to increase domestic financing for immunisation in cognisance that the country, an immunisation co-financer, is yet to demonstrate its readiness to fully rely on its own resources to steer its development, particularly in the health sector when donors finally exit.

To achieve this, the HFFG is, therefore, implementing a three-year project dubbed immunisation Advocacy Initiative (IAI) funded by the African Population Health Research Centre (APHRC).

This initiative is also being implemented in collaboration with HFFG consortium, including the Ghana Registered Midwives Association, SocioServ & West African Aids Foundation) SEND Ghana and Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health.

Director of HFFG, Mrs Cecilia Senoo, at a recent stakeholder engagement in Ho called on government to allocate resources to sustain the immunisation.

"This intervention is securing the future of our children, therefore, an investment in immunisation of children is an investment in the future because we all believe that we are going to expire for our future generations to take over," she said.

Mrs Senoo said the call was significant since it would be a prime effort at securing the future of children.

"What would happen if the donors are gone and our children are not being immunised?.

Mrs Senoo explained that it was important that government, as well as Ghanaians mobilised domestic resources for immunisation.

The stakeholders, mainly queen mothers from several traditional areas, raised concerns about low immunisation coverage and its attendant challenges, including facilitating movement for health personnel in accessing hard-to-reach communities.

Donor Pullout a concern

The Member of Parliament for Ho Central, Mr Benjamin Kpodo, who was present at the engagement said the impending donor pullout should be an issue of concern to government.

He said it was imperative that government made immunisation funding a part of annual budgetary allocation.