President Akufo-Addo has charged the National Vaccine Institute (NVI) to work to bring to fruition the vision of developing and manufacturing vaccines locally.
He told the Board that Ghana must build the capacity to manufacture vaccines to reduce dependence on unreliable sources, as was witnessed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The country can no longer be pawns in the global vaccine market. They must achieve self-sufficiency in vaccine production to meet future national, regional and continental needs for health security.
The President made the call on Wednesday, May 10 when he inaugurated the new 13-member Governing Board at a short ceremony at the Jubilee House, Accra.
Chaired by Dr Anarfi Asamoah-Baah, Head of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Board will facilitate the coordination of all vaccine-related activities in Ghana.
The other members of the board are Prof. William Kwabena Ampofo, CEO of NVI, Dr Baffour-Awuah, representative of the Ministry of Health, Mr Mustapha Tawiah Kumah, representative of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Dr Daniel Gyingiri Achel, representative of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, and Ms. Fredrica Sala Illiasu, representative of the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice.
The rest are, Dr Delese Darko, representative of the Food and Drugs Authority, Professor Alex Dodoo, representative of Ghana Standards Authority, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, representative of the Ghana Health Service, Mr Kofi Nsiah-Poku, representative of the President of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana, Professor Kofi Opoku Nti, President of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, Professor Gordon A. Awandare and Prof. Rita Akosua Dickson, both nominees of the Minister of Health.
President Akufo-Addo recalled Ghana’s struggle to secure vaccines on the international market when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country, saying, “We cannot continue on this unsustainable path.”
He said the global vaccine politics encouraged his government to initiate measures to produce critical vaccines locally and asked the Board to work to meet the expectation of Ghanaians to save the country from global vaccine nationalism and geopolitics.
He assured the NVI board of the government’s support and urged the body to pursue stakeholder consultation in the fulfilment of its mandate.
Dr Asamoah-Baah assured the President that the board would work to ensure the efficient implementation of the key functions of the institute.
“We recognise that our remit is a subset of the broader national agenda, as a nation we still have challenges with vaccine literacy, vaccine hesitancy, vaccine shortage and vaccine financing.
“We pledge to collaborate with the agencies and institutions that have prime responsibility for these areas so that not only do we do our work, but we will also help to advance the vaccine agenda,” he said.
The President later commissioned the new ultra-modern office complex for the NVI at Cantonments, Accra, and charged the institute to maintain the facility.
The NVI, established by an Act of Parliament coordinate vaccine research, development and manufacturing in Ghana.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering, after commissioning the facility that Ghana’s short-term goal was to fill, finish, and package COVID-19, malaria and tuberculosis vaccines within two years.
In the medium term, he noted that the target is to continue to establish more domestic plants in Ghana in five years to meet the World Health Organisation standard.
The government’s long-term plan is to produce a candidate vaccine using innovative technology in ten years.
Gov’t to restrict importation of rice, ‘yemuadie’ and other products
The government is set to lay before Parliament today, November 21, a Constitutional Instrument (C.I) seeking to restrict the importation of selected strategic products into the country.
The items, numbering over 20, will include rice, tripe (popularly called “yemuadie” in Ghana), and diapers.
The government said the move is part of efforts to enhance local production.
Speaking during a press briefing in Parliament, the Minister of Trade and Industry, K.T Hammond said, “Stomach of animals, bladder and the chunk of intestines (yemuadie), the country had had to put in an amount of about $164 million towards the importation of these items. We are taking steps to ensure that in terms of rice, there’s no poverty of rice in the country.”
He emphasized, “By these restrictions, we are not going to ensure that there’s no food in the country at all; that is not the point at all. There have to be some efforts by the government to ensure that we go back to Acheampong’s operation feed yourself. There are about 22 items on the list, one of them, I think, is diapers.”
He announced the introduction of the Ghana Standards Authority Regulations 2023, which also seeks to streamline the manufacturing of cement to ensure competitive pricing.
Mahama doesn’t understand 24hr economy; don’t vote for him – Bawumia
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia says former President John Dramani Mahama does not understand the 24-hour economy policy he is proposing.
According to the Vice President, that policy is already being implemented in the country, as hospitals, fuel companies, among others, operate a 24-hour system.
Dr. Bawumia, therefore, urged Ghanaians to ignore Mahama during the 2024 polls since he has nothing new to offer and vote for the New Patriotic Party.
“John Mahama says he has a new idea. What is the idea? He says he wants a 24-hour economy. He doesn’t even understand that policy. Today in Ghana, our hospitals work 24 hours, our electricity company works 24 hours, our water company works 24 hours, our fuel stations work 24 hours, and many chop bars work 24 hours. Today because of digitalisation, you can transfer money 24 hours, you can receive money 24 hours… So he doesn’t understand his own policy. It doesn’t make sense.”
“So I want you to vote for me in 2024 because I will bring a new vision, I will bring a new policy. Mahama is the past, Dr Bawumia is the future. If John Mahama was there, we would say we have a dumsor economy, you can’t have a 24-hour economy in dumsor. So, you want to vote for Dr Bawumia in 2024, we will take the country to new heights,” Dr Bawumia stated.
Bagbin rebukes IMF over alleged pressure to pass some bills under certificate of urgency
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has accused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of pressuring the House to pass a number of bills under a certificate of urgency.
Mr. Bagbin cited bills such as the Affirmative Action Bill, which is allegedly being pushed by the IMF as part of the conditionality for the balance of the $3 billion credit facility for Ghana.
Speaking at the Speaker’s Breakfast Meeting on Monday, Alban Bagbin insisted that the House will not be coerced by the IMF to pass the bill.
“Even in this budget, you can see the arm of the IMF in a lot of provisions in the budget. A critical bill like the Affirmative Action Gender Equality Bill has come to Parliament under a certificate of urgency. Please, it won’t happen; we won’t pass it under a certificate of urgency.”
“There are critical stakeholders we must consult and make sure we go together. We will not be dictated by the IMF; that one, you can be assured. This is a very critical bill that the IMF should know that we need the buy-in of the stakeholders to be able to implement it,” Alban Bagbin said.
The Affirmative Action Bill, when passed into law, would seek to expunge the historically low representation of women in decision-making spaces and promote democracy and development through all-inclusive participation.