Vaccines shortage: ‘It won’t happen again’ – Health Minister assures as government pays $6.4m
Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman Manu says more than $6 million has been paid to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to deliver baby vaccines as the shortage lingers on.
According to Kwaku Agyeman Manu, government expects the shortage to end in the next three weeks when the vaccines are delivered.
“I stand here and assure the House that within two to three weeks we will get vaccines probably before that. I can’t lay my hand on specific dates but even probably before that, we may get the vaccines earlier than two weeks.
“Throughout the period we have paid close to $6.4 million dollars equivalent to UNICEF who supplies us the vaccines,” he said in Parliament on Friday.
The Health Minister explained that vaccine shortages were a result of accumulated debt at the Ministry and has since been working around the clock.
“At the time when I went to the ministry, I was so worked up trying to negotiate with Gabby and our donors to actually give us vaccines whiles we started paying for the rest.
“We inherited over 15.8-million-dollar equivalent in vaccines and we even hand recorded close to about 358 infections in that particular year, 2016,” he said.
However, Minister whilst urging the Legislators to approve funds needed for vaccines, assured that shortages will not recur.
“The assurance I will give and I can give for the first time in the Chamber is that this will not happen again and I will advise that you help me in my advocacy to get adequate funding for vaccines even the health insurance budget,” he appealed.
It would be recalled that the President in the State of the Nation’s Address on March 8 expressed worry about the shortages.
According to him, the shortage is due to the concentration of the Covid-19 fight.
The President assured that “government has taken steps to ensure that stocks of these vaccines are procured and supplied, as a matter of emergency.
“The Ghana Health Service has developed an elaborate programme to catch up on children who have missed their vaccinations immediately stocks arrive.”
Already, over 100 children in the northern part of Ghana are suspected to have contracted measles.
This is according to the President-elect for the Paediatrics Society of Ghana, Dr Hilda Mantebea Boye.
However, the President insisted that no child has died due to the shortage.
Ghana ran out of essential BCG and OPV vaccines as a result of the Ministry of Health’s failure to secure procurement of these vaccines since the year began.
The BCG vaccine is primarily needed to prevent the occurrence of tuberculosis in babies, while the OPV is to prevent polio infections.