Government is to begin negotiations with international pharmaceutical companies to source a suitable Covid-19 vaccine for Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
This follows the completion of the task of the Committee set up by government to make recommendations for the procurement of COVID-19 shots to further the high-stake fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
President Akufo-Addo made the disclosure when he opened the 72nd annual New Year School and Conference at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, legon, near Accra.
The event, being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, College of Education, University of Ghana, is on the theme, “Building Ghana in the Face of Global Health Crises”.
The flagship outreach programme of the University, provides a forum to deliberate on issues of national interest. This year’s conference is spotlighting the global health crises occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic, the ramifications for Ghana’s economy and measures to counter the effect of the pandemic.
Some 300 academics, administrators, politicians, technocrats, social workers, and other stakeholders are attending the two-day event.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that though government was seeking upend the disease with vaccines sources from international sources, the pandemic had illustrated vividly the need for self reliance in all areas of social and economic life.
He said was about time that the country broke the cycle of dependence on foreigners in the field of science and medicine, urging Ghana’s scientists and pharmaceutical companies to be “up and doing” in the production of local vaccines to combat the disease.
“It is not beyond our scientists and pharmaceutical companies, whose knowledge and expertise cannot be questioned, to produce an indigenous vaccine to combat the virus. They must be up and doing,” he said.
The President said Government was already working to reverse the negative economic impact occasioned by the pandemic.
He said his administration was pursuing measures that would ensure that critical sectors of the economy, such as education, health, agriculture, trade and industry remained productive and vibrant.
The President said though the pandemic took a huge toll on the gains his administration had chalked during the first three years of his first term in office, statistics however indicated that the country’s economy was rebounding earlier than expected.
This, he said, was due to the raft of measures and proactive decisions employed by government to revamp critical sectors of economy, placing particular emphasis on the reduction of the monetary policy rate that has supported credit extension to businesses, and the institution of the 100 billion Cedi Ghana Cares Obaatanpa programme, which he noted anchored bright prospects for the revitalization and transformation of the economy in the medium to long term.
Government has also provided soft loans and grants totalling 600 million Ghana cedis to support micro, small and medium scale enterprises who have taken a hit due to the pandemic.
The President said the pandemic had presented the country the opportunity to resolve some of the long-standing problems in the health sector such as the improvement of infrastructure.
“We have taken steps to resolve the problem of infrastructure deficits in the healthcare system once and for all and that has led to the agenda 111 with the start of building of hospitals, upgrading district hospitals and establishing new ones and also investing in the next generation of Ghanaian doctors and nurses”.
Additionally, the pandemic, he said, helped ramp up domestic production of Personal Protective Equipment, thus creating opportunities for the local garment and textile industry.
“By this we proved to the entire world that we can attain our goal of a Ghana Beyond Aid,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo remimded Ghanaians on the need to observe the coronavirus hygiene and safety protocols to consolidate the gains made economically and in the fight against COVID-19.
“The recent upsurge in COVID-19 infections tells us that the virus is very much with us…so we cannot afford to abandon the enhanced hygiene and safety protocols that helped us fare much better than many other countries, including some well -advanced developed nations.
“If we do not adhere to these protocols, all the work that is being undertaken to build Ghana in the face of the global health crisis will fail,” he stressed.
Government, he assured, would protect the most vulnerable in society to overcome the economic effects of the virus, and would work with all stakeholders to deal with and ameliorate the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the country’s economy.