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January 30, 2023

Citizens’ Petition Urges Establishment of a Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund in Ghana

On November 14, 2022, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator's (GHAI) Prevent Epidemics program’s partner Social Enterprise Development Foundation in Ghana (SEND GHANA), an Accra-based civil society organization (CSO), presented a citizens’ petition to the President, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Chairpersons of the Parliament's Health and Finance Committees, the Ministers of Health and Finance, and other stakeholders in Ghana, calling for the urgent establishment of a Public Health Emergencies Preparedness and Response Fund (PHEF). SEND GHANA also published the petition in the national newspaper and on digital media to increase public awareness and gain supporters.

The citizens’ petition outlined the impact of COVID-19 and response gaps to other epidemics such as yellow fever, monkeypox, and Marburg fever in Ghana over the last year, and documented the importance of sustainable domestic funding to enhance preparedness, detection, and response activities. Ghana presently relies on consolidated and contingency funds and loans or grants from development partners to fund public health emergencies and these funds have proven to be inadequate or unavailable at the onset of emergencies.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana set up a COVID-19 Trust Fund by an Act of Parliament. The Trust Fund received donations from individuals, supportive organizations, and the government and was managed by a board with government oversight. Also, the government enacted a one percent COVID-19 Health Recovery Levy on goods and services by an Act of Parliament. The citizens’ petition calls for the COVID-19 Trust Fund to be revised by legislation to become the PHEF, with the COVID-19 Health Recovery Levy to become one stream of funding to the PHEF. Other sources of funding could include the private sector, individuals, and international partners.

SEND GHANA promoted the citizens’ petition on social media platforms, and through civil society organizations and other partner networks in Ghana, including the Ghana Civil Society Organizations Platform for the Sustainable Development Goals. Additional media promotion included TV and radio discussions to further sensitize the public about the need for epidemic preparedness funding and create awareness of the citizens’ petition. In less than two months, the citizens’ petition collected 577 signatures from individuals and organizations.

On December 22, 2022, the Ministry of Finance contacted SEND GHANA regarding the petition. A technical director representing the Deputy Minister of Finance in charge of budgets indicated that the ministry is interested in establishing the PHEF. Based on the citizens’ petition, the Ministry of Finance is requesting a proposal on the structure, management, and source of funding for such a fund.

Through our partnership with SEND-GHANA, GHAI’s Prevent Epidemics program, a Resolve to Save Lives initiative, supports activities to strengthen advocacy capacity and ensure increased investments towards epidemic preparedness by the government. GHAI’s Prevent Epidemics program will work with SEND GHANA to prepare and present the proposal within the first quarter of 2023.

COVID-19 has taught us all that epidemic preparedness is critically important in our interconnected world. GHAI supports efforts in Ghana and Nigeria to build support for epidemic preparedness, by engaging the public and political decision-makers about the need to prioritize preparedness and its funding.

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