Some Ghanaians want the government to take immediate measures to improve the resilience of the healthcare system through the establishment of an emergency fund.
They said a dedicated fund that can be rapidly mobilised to support various health interventions, including the procurement of medical supplies, the expansion of healthcare infrastructure, and the training of healthcare professionals during health crises, is a necessity.
They also asked for practical steps to widen coverage and bridge infrastructure gaps.
These requests are the results of the insights and inputs provided by citizens during the collection of inputs into the 2024 National Budget and Economic Statement, put together by civil society group, SEND Ghana. In all, about 392 people participated.
To this end, they expressed a strong collective desire for the government to establish a Public Health Emergency Fund and convert the COVID-19 Levy into a source of funding for it.
This further supports the earlier 600 citizens who petitioned the government on the same ordeal, noting that this approach will ensure that Ghana is better equipped to swiftly and effectively handle future health crises, without going for grants or loans or overburdening the public.
A dedicated fund will serve as a financial backbone for public health emergencies, safeguarding the health and well-being of all Ghanaians, while building a more resilient healthcare system that can better serve the long-term needs of the population.
These requests came as a direct result of the insights and inputs provided by citizens during the collection of inputs into the 2024 National Budget and Economic Statement, put together by a civil society group, SEND Ghana.
SEND Ghana, in a release signed by its Deputy Country Director, Emmanuel Ayifah, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and other subsequent outbreaks have revealed the critical importance of having a robust public health infrastructure.
Among other things, the respondents also suggested the inclusion of dialysis treatment for chronic kidney failure on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) benefits package and ensuring all district hospitals have at least one dialysis equipment and associated commodities and qualified personnel.
Also, ensuring sustained financing of routine immunisation programmes and improving equitable distribution of logistics to all facilities at all levels of the health delivery system.
Respondents are strongly recommending that: “The cost of ready to use therapeutic foods (RUTF) for the treatment of malnutrition in children should be covered fully by the government and possibly integrated into NHIS.
“Allocate and disburse enough funds for HIV/AIDS screening, testing, and medication and to educate and raise awareness on HIV/AIDS to ensure universal access to prevention, treatment and care services towards ending AIDS as a public health threat.
Also, abolish period or menstrual tax: menstrual products such as pads should be considered as essential products which should be tax-free through the removal of the 20% luxury tax and the 15% Value Added Tax (VAT) on all menstrual products”.
They also made inputs in the areas of Gender and Social Protection, Education, and Agriculture for inclusion in the 2024 national budget.
They put forward that, government should increase budgetary allocation to provide more Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services, including providing and strengthening adolescent-friendly centres and family planning commodities.
For social protection, they called for the increasing of funds and ensuring timely releases of payment for Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), school feeding programme, and capitation grant and index their value to inflation.
Also, the government should provide medical waivers for victims of child sexual abuse and abolish Nursing and teacher trainee allowances and put them on the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) student loan scheme.
For education, they want the government to review the Free Senior High School education policy, increase the funding to improve the quality of education at the SHS level and ensure the timely release of funds to schools.
“Pay much attention to basic/primary education by increasing the Capitation grant amounts and adhere to the timely release of funds.
“Make Technical and Vocational Education and Training more attractive to encourage more people to enroll and also expand programmes to accommodate artisans who trained under apprenticeship to polish their vocations at the TVET centres on a short-course basis,” they further urged, saying for agriculture, more mechanisation centres should be established to provide services for smallholder farmers.
The respondents also urged the government to reintroduce road tolls and earmark 70 percent of revenue for road infrastructure.