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Strengthening health security will help Ghana achieve Universal Health Coverage

Accra, Oct. 15, GNA- Dr. Emmanuel Odame, Director Policy, Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (PPME) at the Ministry of Health, says strengthening health security will contribute to the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Ghana.

He said increased support in the areas of health security was appropriate, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Odame was speaking at a meeting hosted by the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Ghana Office, and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) in Ada in the Greater Accra Region.

The meeting brought together Government and Development Partners in the health sector who are contributing to the implementation and achievement of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) in Ghana.

Dr. Franklin Asiedu Bekoe Director of Public Health of the Ghana Health Service, in his remarks, emphasized the importance of the meeting and noted the tremendous progress in the area of laboratory and workforce development from the time the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) packages was carried out in 2017.
Mr Seungmin Oh, Senior Deputy Country Director from KOICA Ghana Office, hoped that the meeting will adequately inform both the government and development partners on the progress of the implementation of the GHSA, funded by KOICA and the US CDC.

Dr Danielle Barradas, Director Global Health Security Programme of US CDC, who officially opened the meeting, said she looked forward to creating synergy and sharing information between development partners and implementing partners to foster a clear understanding of each partners’ activities to achieve the objectives of the GHSA.

The Global Health Security Agenda was first launched in February 2014. In the following year, the Government of the Republic of Korea committed 100 million USD to support the agenda from 2016 to 2020. Subsequently, 10 priority countries among its 44 KOICA overseas offices were identified for the support.

In 2018, the US CDC and KOICA Ghana Office signed an MOU to support the “Phase I GHSA Project” from 2018 to 2022 to contribute to Ghana’s attainment of the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005). In May 2021, the Government of Korea renewed its commitment again with USD 200 million to the GHSA for the next 5 years.

Among the 19 Joint External Evaluation (JEE) packages, the “Phase I GHSA Project” is tackling four main areas namely; laboratory strengthening, real-time surveillance and reporting, workforce development, and emergency preparedness and response.

Since its inception, the project has achieved many milestones in the past three years. Some notable ones are the ISO15189 accreditation for National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL), linkage of laboratory and surveillance data systems, training of field epidemiologists through “Intermediate Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) » which will produce about 103 field epidemiologists by the end of the project in 2022.

It has also supported the Tamale Infectious Disease Treatment Center and trained some staff from the national and regional Emergency Operation Center (EOC).

The project has also successfully held the first International GHSA Symposium in Seoul, South Korea in 2019, trained two batches of Ghanaian officials for the Infectious Disease Field Management Training Program in 2017 and 2018, and sponsored two Ghanaian officials working with MOH/GHS to complete master’s degree in Global Health Security in one of the top three universities in Korea.

At the end of the two-day meeting, both Government and Development partners were able to identify and address project related issues such as the duplication of technical areas, activities, and deliverables among each other as well as align future plans for further support to strengthen collaboration in the area of health security in Ghana.

Other critical areas that were identified included support logistics and infrastructure for Point of Entry, expansion of Surveillance Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System (SORMAS), a continuation of training of field epidemiologist through Intermediate- and Frontline- FETP intervention, the need for the establishment of Regional EOCs and strengthening specimen referral transport system.