The negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still being felt on Ghana’s economy since the outbreak in the early part of 2020.
Several health initiatives have been introduced, particularly during the 2021 budget presentation, to improve healthcare service delivery
The 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy will not be different because expenditure on health infrastructure and health-related items such as vaccines, hospital supplies, and PPEs have become routine.
Government’s initial response to the health impact of this pandemic was outlined in the National COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP) which was largely funded with the US$100million from the World Bank.
Ghanaians expect the Minister to among other things capture measures put in place by the government to take the country out of the pandemic.
Ghanaians will also be expecting the budget to update them on processes put in place to build various district hospitals promised by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
It would be recalled that in the main budget presented in March 2021, an amount of €890 million was said to have been set aside by the government for the construction of 33 major health projects in the country.
In pursuit of the government’s health infrastructure drive, is the Agenda 111, where the Health Ministry awarded contracts for the construction of 101 district hospitals, seven regional hospitals, and three Psychiatric Hospitals.
These projects are part of the state’s grand agenda to managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Update on COVID-19 Health Levy
A COVID-19 levy was introduced to cater for the increasing state expenditure brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The newly proposed levy was a one percentage point increase on both the existing VAT Flat Rate Scheme (VFRS) and National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL).
Monies accrued from the imposition of the levy were to go into the construction of health infrastructure, recruitment of more health personnel, vaccination programme and address other challenges in a bid to manage the COVID-19 outbreak in the country because expenditure on health infrastructure and health-related items such as vaccines, hospital supplies and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have become routine.
Some of the measures being implemented by the government to address this pandemic using the Levy include:
1. Procurement, distribution and administration of vaccines ‒ the first batch of 600,000 doses from the COVAX Facility have already been delivered and an additional 17,600,000 vaccine doses were to be delivered by June, with more to come in the course of the year.
2. Establishment of 14 medical waste treatment facilities across the country for safe disposal of medical waste in collaboration with the private sector.
3. Thirty-three major health projects approved for implementation at a cost of €890 million; To date, 14,600,000 pieces of personal protective equipment produced domestically and distributed to health workers, students, teaching and non-teaching staff of tertiary and secondary educational institutions.
3. Fumigation and disinfection of public places including, airports, markets, schools, hospitals, offices etc;
4. Agenda 111 ‒ the construction of 100-bed District Hospitals in 101 Districts with no hospitals, 7 Regional Hospitals for the new Regions, including one for the Western Region, the construction of 2 new psychiatric hospitals for the Middle and Northern Belts, respectively, and the rehabilitation of Effia Nkwanta Hospital in the Western Region.
5. The need to recruit more health care professionals, in addition to the 100,000 recruited in the first term of the President.
Ghana has been administering AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX, the Indian government, and other donors for its mass vaccination program.
Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which arrived in the country through the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust initiative have also been given out to the populace.
Other brands that have been rolled out to meet the government’s 20 million population target are Pfizer, Moderna and Sputnik.