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General News of Thursday, 27 May 2021


Ghana supports calls for equitable access to coronavirus tools - Health Minister

The minister believes no country can end the pandemic alone The minister believes no country can end the pandemic alone

Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu says Ghana supports recommendations for equitable access to COVID-19 tools.

He said Ghana was also in support of waiver of intellectual property restrictions on coronavirus vaccines and counter-measures to promote access, as well as proposals for a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response.

This will help address weaknesses in the current global health governance system.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said this at the ongoing global consensus building at the 74th World Health Assembly meeting via video conferencing in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said no country would be able to end the pandemic alone and reiterated Ghana’s commitment to multilateral efforts to end the epidemic while forestalling those of the future.

The Minister, in the spirit of “never wasting a crisis,” called for the scaling-up of research and development for medicines (including traditional medicines), therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines to address supply chain constraints.

He thanked the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, for his earlier report to the Assembly, which he deemed as very insightful.

The Minister also commended the Secretariat for the forward-looking theme: “Ending this Pandemic, Preventing the Next: Building Together A Healthier, Safer and Fairer World,” that linked how to end the pandemic to safeguarding the future of the world.

Mr Agyeman-Manu acknowledged as very true the joint statement made by the 2030 Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Co-Chairs, and their Political Advisory Panel, which noted, among others, that “to end this crisis and build a safer and healthier future, the world must act urgently in three linked areas: equitable access to coronavirus tools, preparedness for future emergencies, and universal health coverage.”

He welcomed the reports of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Response (IPPR), the International Human Rights Review Committee, and the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, all of which pointed to significant gaps in the current global and national health systems.

“We support the IPPR’s recommendation to elevate preparedness and response to the highest level of political leadership,” he said.

The Health Minister said it was encouraging to note that Ghana was seen as one of the countries that had managed the coronavirus effectively and that despite its devastations, COVID-19 had had some positive implications for Ghana’s health sector.

Those included behaviour changes such as handwashing practices leading to reduced cholera infections, he said.

Again, greater attention was now being paid to health system development, with high political will for investments leading to large-scale constructions of health care infrastructure projects and commencement of processes for setting up a Ghana Centre for Disease Control (CDC), he said.

The Minister also mentioned the current ignition of local production of health sector inputs such as personal protective equipment and other consumables, and ultimately vaccine production.

Mr Agyeman-Manu, on behalf of the country’s delegation, reiterated their recognition of WHO’s leadership role in coordinating global health, in setting global health norms and standards and for providing technical and operational support to countries such as Ghana, whose health system had benefited tremendously from such assistance.

He added the country’s voice to calls for the full funding of WHO Emergency programmes, and for full access to coronavirus tools, including its vaccine pillar, the COVAX facility.