To achieve a successful vaccination campaign and deployment, government cannot work alone and therefore requires the active participation of the private sector, Philip Owiredu, Managing Director of CalBank has said.
“Looking at the limited resources we have as a nation; I do not think we should expect the vaccination programme to be borne solely by government. I believe that the private sector should come together and see how best we can partner with government in terms of how to support the country go through a successful programme,” he said.
Speaking to the B&FT in an exclusive interview, Mr. Owiredu noted that the effective and efficient manner in which private sector players rose up during the early days of the pandemic, a similar urgency or something more is required now to get society back to normalcy sooner rather than later.
It can be recalled that during the first half of 2020, many businesses came to the aid of government via donations to the government-run Private Sector COVID-19 Fund, and embarked on their own COVID-19 preventive campaigns. A private sector led initiative also resulted in the construction and equipping of a 100-bed world class infectious diseases centre at the Ga East District Hospital.
To Mr. Owiredu, the private sector must increase its efforts in supporting government increase education and awareness on the safety of the vaccines, fund the purchase of them, and bring its expertise to bare on their deployment.
“At the end of the day, should we have some sense of normalcy in terms of how we do things, the private sector stands to benefit. If the economy stays in this state for a very long time, the private sector is going to lose out. A cost benefit analysis shows that if the private sector put in something to help, in the long run it would be much more beneficial to the sector.
“We have various associations such as the Bankers’ Association, Insurers Association and the Association of Ghana’s Industries. If all these associations come together and pull resources together to support the government in bringing down vaccines, I think that should help,” he said.
Apart from providing financial support to government, Mr. Owiredu stressed on the need for a concerted approach to increase information and awareness on the safety of the vaccines and the need to take them.
“The private sector can also help in educating the populace on the fact that in the long run, the vaccines are going to benefit us. I do not subscribe to the conspiracy theory that the vaccines would lead to the wipe out of a race of people.
Currently the Association of Bankers is carrying out a campaign on managing COVID-19 in the banking space and those are the things we should be helping government with. We all have to work together for people to accept that these vaccines are safe and once we achieve a certain number of vaccinated population, we come to normalcy,” he added.
He assured of CalBank’s readiness to support the private sector initiative to help drive the vaccination campaign. “If the call comes, we would be prepared and as a socially responsible institution, we are more than willing to support this.”
Government has already secured and ready to deploy some 350,000 doses of AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1-S) vaccines. Earlier this week, the Ministry of Health authorised the registration and use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus. The vaccine was approved under the emergency use authorization procedure.
The distribution of the vaccines, according to the Ghana Health Service will be based on segmentation of the population – but ultimately, the entire population will be considered.
Twenty million persons are being targeted for the initial stage. They include: health workers, persons with underlying health conditions, security personnel, other essential service providers, persons above 60 years, second cycle and tertiary students, teachers at all levels, specialised groups on national assignments, executive, legislature, judiciary, MDAs, media among others.
The nation will deploy 12,471 vaccinators, 37,413 volunteers and 2,079 team supervisors for a planned 2-round vaccination campaign while the country has estimated that, approximately, it will cost US$2.60-US$3 to vaccinate each person fully, which includes two doses.