Rethinking Ghana’s COVID-19 Levy: Need for its transformation into Public Health Emergency Fund  

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“I would have lost my life to if my family were poor. Despite the government support and interventions, they were not enough to save my life from the dreaded virus. 

“The country's health system is challenged, and any outbreak of infectious diseases could be devastating on the population if care is not taken,” Mr David Dannor (borrowed name), a survivor of disclosed in an interview with the in

 “People spent hundreds of cedis to ensure they accessed the best health services and treatment for the disease.” 

“Also, contact tracing was a major challenge. Those with whom I got into contact before testing positive were not traced and quarantined. This is one example of the many loopholes in the health system.” 

The country needs robust healthcare structures to ensure its preparedness to counter any form of emergency. This is where adequate funding must be prioritised. 
It is against this backdrop that the COVID-19 experience should be a case study to identify the shortfalls, strengths, and weaknesses in Ghana's health system.

 Madam Gifty Armond (real name hidden) a businesswoman who lost her husband to COVID-19, attributed her loss to the unavailability of resources/medication for victims.  

Though her husband was quarantined at home for care and treatment, medication became a challenge as it took so long before deliveries were made to the house.  
“‘Sometimes it takes a week before we receive deliveries when his drugs had finished a long time,” she said. 

The country's effective response to emergencies came into play during the pandemic, which emphasizes the need for the Government to consider proposals for the establishment of a health emergency fund to resolve such issues. This must, however, be pursued rigorously to counter future threats.

The COVID-19 Levy 
The levy was introduced in the 2021 Budget and Economic Policy of the Government and was implemented as a temporary measure to recoup some of the expenses made in response to the pandemic and help put the economy back on track. 

As Ghana grapples with the economic fallout being experienced by some other countries in the world, of which the COVID-19 pandemic has been cited as a contributory factor, discussions have emerged regarding the appropriateness of using the levy to bolster response to a future pandemic, if the need arises. 

In recent months, there has been mixed reaction over the continued imposition of the COVID-19 levy. While some are advocating it should be scrapped since the pandemic was over and its original purpose has become obsolete, others say it should be channelled into a public health emergency fund (PHEF) to address broader societal needs. 

 Key among these advocates are civil society groups, economists, and politicians.  
Repurposing the COVID-19 levy into an emergency fund would ensure greater transparency, accountability, and efficiency in addressing pressing needs, especially building resilience against future crises through strategic resource allocation. 

 “I believe the Levy was set up purposely because of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help us regain our economy. It's almost three years now since the disease left, What's the essence of the levy again? It must be scrapped completely” a health worker said. 

Opportunity/ Challenges in transitioning COVID-19 levy to Emergency Fund 
Some stakeholders have cautioned against the potential misuse of such funds and emphasised the need for a robust oversight mechanism to safeguard it against

In spite of the fears, they believe that a dedicated PHEF will enhance Ghana's ability to respond swiftly and effectively to a wide range of health emergencies, some of which the country relies on foreign aid to combat, which may not be forthcoming. 

While the Government has acknowledged the growing calls for re-evaluating the COVID-19 levy, it has re-affirmed its commitment to fiscal prudence and responsiveness.   

Its officials have indicated openness to exploring alternative approaches to resource mobilisation.  
As Ghana navigates the complexities of post-pandemic recovery, the debate surrounding the COVID-19 levy reinforces broader questions about fiscal policy, governance, and social resilience. 

While opinions may vary on the best course of action, one thing remains clear: the need for adaptive and forward-thinking strategies to address immediate challenges and future uncertainties.  

Whether the COVID-19 levy evolves into a Public Health Emergency Fund or undergoes alternative transformation, the ultimate goal must be to prioritise the well-being and resilience of the Ghanaian society to withstand any shocks; both internally and externally, albeit with good leadership, solid preparedness and high sustainability rate.

 Thus, the establishment of a fund to assist in fighting against the public health crisis to strengthen Ghana's self-reliance and avoid seeking external support during emergencies is an advocacy that cannot be overstated. 

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