The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu has disclosed that payments to the tune of $6.4 million have been made to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for the supply of three key childhood vaccines that are in short supply in Ghana.
Appearing before Parliament on Thursday, March 9, to answer questions regarding the shortages, the Health Minister said some key procurement and shipping activities are part of the reasons for the delay in the supply.
Taking a question on the amount paid for the vaccines from the Member of Parliament for the Okaikoi North constituency, Theresa Awuni, the Minister disclosed that “we have made payments of about $6.4 million of the Cedi equivalent to UNICEF who supplies us the vaccines.”
He further disclosed that a large chunk of the funds for the vaccines was disbursed by the National Health Insurance Authority in tranches.
“I have a template on how these monies were released; the NHIA transferred GH¢25 million in June 2022. We also had another GH¢10.5 million in October, we had GH¢13.1 in November and the last tranche was around GH¢23 million in December. All of these totalled GH¢71.8 million, and we budgeted this amount on the basis of GH¢6 to the dollar, but we are all aware that the Cedi was not trading at that amount, so we had shortfalls in the dollar equivalence and that is what caused the delays.”
Ghana has been hit with acute childhood vaccine shortages since October 2022 which has left thousands of babies across the country unvaccinated.
The Minister failed to give a definite timeline for the supply of the vaccines.