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July 11, 2023

Academia and Civil Society Call for the Establishment of a Public Health Emergency Fund in Ghana

On June 7, 2023, the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) hosted a symposium titled “Establishing a National Public Health Emergency Fund: The Role of Academia" in collaboration with SEND GHANA and the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI). Stakeholders from major Ghanaian universities, the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service, bilateral organizations and civil society gathered to examine the need for a dedicated Public Health Emergency Fund (PHEF) to prepare for public health emergencies and the role of academia as advocates to build support in government for the establishment of the Fund PHEF.

Stakeholders at the symposium included representatives from UHAS, the University of Cape Coast, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the University for Development Studies, Ghana’s Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and civil society organizations. With more than 300 participants (in-person and online), the event provided a platform for multidisciplinary collaboration and knowledge sharing about how the strengthen Ghana’s health security.

The symposium highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent Ebola epidemic in countries neighboring Ghana and emphasized the importance of investing in emergency preparedness. The participants recognized successes, such as existing infrastructure, trained personnel, and expertise within Ghana, but also identified gaps in funding for public health emergencies. Symposium participants proposed utilizing Ghana’s 1% COVID-19 Levy to establish the PHEF and called for clear government budget lines and matched funding to support the growth of the Fund in a communique outlining outcomes from the symposium.

The PHEF would support preparedness activities, capacity building, research, surveillance and response efforts. The participants also outlined proposals for the governance of the PHEF, including independence, transparency, accountability and multi-level coordination. They stressed the need to attract multilateral and bilateral partners to contribute to the fund's growth. Given the many recent outbreaks impacting Ghana, including COVID-19, meningitis, cholera and recently yellow fever, in addition to concerns related to regional Ebola outbreaks, post-epidemic activities were emphasized, with a focus on continuous monitoring, surveillance, research and evaluation.

A communique was issued post-symposium by the participants, which highlighted the importance of collaboration between civil society organizations and academia for advocacy and ongoing progress. Symposium discussions and the communique both emphasized the significance of establishing the PHEF to address gaps in preparedness and response to public health emergencies, ensure national health security and strengthen the nation's resilience for future emergencies.

The symposium and communique received significant media attention, with coverage on prominent platforms such as Ghana Broadcasting Cooperation (GBC) radio and TV, Ghana News Agency, Ghanaweb and The Pulse on JoyNews. UHAS and GHAI’s Prevent Epidemics project in Ghana will sign a memorandum of understanding to formalize the partnership between academia and advocates toward the shared goal of improving health security and the establishment of a PHEF in Ghana.

Pictured from left to right: Dr. Joyce Der- Binka School Of Public Health(SPH), UHAS, Dr. John Tengey- SPH, University of Ghana, Dr. Yeetey Enuameh- SPH,KNUST, Dr. Mavis Pearl Kwabla- Binka SPH, UHAS, Dr. Stephen Apanga- SPH, University for Development Studies, Dr. Gideon Kye-Duodu- Binka SPH, UHAS and Ms. Joana Addey- SEND-GHANA