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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Health Minister Laments Vaccine Politics

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Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu has lamented the style of politics adopted by some opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs and some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) which he said put the lives of Ghanaians at risk when the country was looking for vaccines to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said Ghana would have made more progress in the vaccination of the public had the NDC MPs and some CSOs not put what he called impediments in the way of the efforts to procure more vaccines.

According to the minister, the NDC and the CSOs frustrated every attempt to get the vaccines but are now turning around to accuse the government of not making progress as far as the vaccination of more people are concerned in the bid to stem the Covid-19 tide.

The Health Minister raised the concern in Parliament on Wednesday during the debate on the 2022 budget.

The attacks started when the NDC MP for Juaboso in the Western North Region said the government had so far managed to inoculate 2.5 million people as at October 2021, a figure he said it was against the target of 17 million people for the same period as had been promised by the President.

Akandoh, who is also the Minority spokesperson on Health, said “Mr. Speaker, it is a fact that as a country we have failed to vaccinate our people on time to meet the herd immunity. Mr. Speaker, I say so because the government presented to us a vaccination plan and this document is titled ‘Covid-19 vaccination deployment and vaccination plan’.”

He indicated on page 29 of a document he was holding that the government was supposed to have vaccinated about 1.5million people between April and June 2021, adding “again, from June to August we were supposed to have vaccinated about 6.3million. Between September to October we should have about 9.5million people. At this time we should have vaccinated not less than 17million people. Ironically, if you refer to the 2022 budget we have vaccinated only 2.5million. Per their own marking scheme, 2.5 divided 17 is an obvious fail.”

The Health Minister, who is the MP for Dormaa Central, charged and said the NDC MP should be the last person to complain about the vaccination project because he was one of the MPs who held the neck of the ministry when they were doing their best to get more vaccines.

“Mr. Speaker, I am so amazed. When I was rushing to get the vaccines to do vaccination very quickly to meet our Covid target, I was called culpable of not having come to Parliament and I have been lambasted to the extent that now, I don’t have any image in this country, by your own colleagues in the chambers. Now you stand up and tell me that our vaccinations have been very slow.”

He said, “Our debt situation is not anything that anybody can write home about but let us look at how some of these monies have been spent.”

“Honourable Akandoh is asking for complete investigations into Covid expenditures. Because they are materials and that add up to our debt, we will get investigations into that area,” he stated.

E-Health Agenda

The minister also waded into the E-Health agenda of the government when Akandor claimed that the NDC started the whole E-Health system.

“Mr. Speaker, wonders will never end in this world. This Government’s budget, according to my colleague from the other side, is deceiving the whole nation. He (Kwabena Mintah Akandoh) talked about dishonesty. And meanwhile, he claimed E-health was started by Seth Terkper in 2013, 2015 and 2016 whatever it is like (is not dishonesty),” he stated in Parliament.

He said, “As I stand here, we have connected 36 facilities, including the Teaching Hospital in Cape Coast. We have gone ahead to network all teaching hospitals and regional hospitals in this country. We have now drawn down to 60 hospitals that we are working on such that patients will not carry their records around.”

He said, “Mr. Speaker, I will continue to say that wonders shall never end. Some of us want to go to the upstream of the river to muddy the waters and will rush down to come and tell people down there what we have done to the beautiful river.”

He said if any government and its people had been dishonest it was surely not the NPP rather the NDC, adding that the party always seeks to do propaganda and blame its action on another.

“They are talking about fuel price and taxes on it. The 11 taxes on fuel price, who introduced them? So dishonest; you go and introduce 11 taxes on petroleum prices and they will come around and tell me that I put them. Indeed, wonders will never end. Why should it be?”

“We are asking for hospitals. Hospitals that have been abandoned, according to my colleague Akandoh, should be completed, and we want new ones to be built in the name of Agenda 111 but on the other hand, there should be no taxes. E-levy should be dropped. Taxes should be reduced. So how do we provide these, including roads and several other special services?” he quizzed.

He said Ghana was voted one of the best managers of the Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and intimated that the nation achieved the feat as a result of investment, good thinking and initiatives by the Nana Akufo-Addo administration.

“No government in this country has ever positioned the Ambulance Service the way Nana Akufo-Addo government has done for us. He procured 307 ambulances at a go. The 200 ambulances that the NDC was supposed to provide, only 37 were provided and we couldn’t use them.

“They are still parked somewhere because they were not up to the standard. We have still not taken delivery of them.

“If we had not procured these ambulances, in the midst of Covid-19, we wouldn’t have moved. Apart from that Parliament has approved 100 ambulances for procurement to beef up what we have in the system,” he said.

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