Some people are praising the vice president of Ghana Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia for the successful digitization program which is the decoder of the Ghana Card in replacement of Ghanaian Passport whenever the need be.
But the praise singers have either failed to realize or are refusing to take note of how the Ghana Card on the other side of being successful to some people has also created a problem for some Ghanaians holding foreign passports and the need to raise concern for the authorities to quickly resolve the problem in the system to treat all travelers fairly.
Since the president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, made the passionate appeal to Ghanaians in the diasporas and foreign nationals to relocate to Ghana with their expertise to contribute towards the development of the country, many people have been visiting Ghana every year, sometimes twice a year.
The number of Ghanaian expatriates, visitors, holiday makers as well as tourists and even those who keep relocating from their countries of origin to live in Ghana have been multiplying every now and then after the appeal.
A typical example was the recorded huge numbers of Ghanaian returnees, visitors, holiday makers, tourists and Ghanaians with foreign passports who visited the country after the launching of the “Year of Return” program followed by the “Home Coming” program by the president.
These two programs by the president certainly exposed some of the problems facing travelers including loss of passports, proof of identification and many more that in the wisdom of the vice president introduced the Ghana Card.
Then in 2020 Covid-19 pandemic hit the world that brought about the vaccine passport which required that every traveler visiting Ghana must be vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination certificate before allowed entry into the country.
This affected the international travel industry and tourism so much that Ghana was not an exception of the economic downturn that the pandemic created. Thank God the pandemic is almost over and travel vaccine certificates are no longer needed as a requirement before allowed entry into Ghana by travelers.
But investigation has revealed that another vaccination certificate is now required before Ghanaians with foreign passports would be allowed entry into Ghana which many have described as discriminatory and called on the foreign affairs ministry and ministry of health to quickly resolve and treat all travelers to Ghana fairly.
The new travel vaccine certificate is the Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate that Ghanaians holding foreign passports are required to provide before allowed entry into Ghana.
However, Ghanaians with foreign passports but for the purpose of traveling to Ghana have acquired Ghana cards are not required to provide Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate before allowed entry into Ghana which many are seeing as discriminatory.
They argued that both Ghanaians with foreign passports and those with Ghana Card are both living in foreign destinations and if Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate should be made mandatory before entry into Ghana, then it should not exclude Ghanaians with Ghana Card living in foreign destinations.
Revelations from my investigation indicated that in 2022, 12 countries in World Health Organization [WHO] Africa Region reported confirmed cases of yellow fever included Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, and the Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
All 12 countries that reported confirmed cases implemented requirements for proof of vaccination against yellow fever as a condition for entry. Ten countries require proof of vaccination against yellow fever for any traveler, regardless of the origin of their voyage: whereas three countries Chad, Kenya, and Nigeria require proof of vaccination against yellow fever for travelers arriving from countries with areas at risk for yellow fever transmission as determined by WHO Secretariat.
Ghana is currently not a country at risk for yellow fever transmission.
But checks and double checks on Ghana Health Service [GHS] and Ministry of Health [MOH] websites showed no alert or press statement on risk of yellow fever in Ghana as area of risk and the requirement of yellow fever certificate as proof of vaccination against yellow fever for travelers arriving from foreign countries.
Although it is advisable for travelers either with foreign passports or Ghana cards to visit a travel clinic before entry Ghana, the yellow fever vaccination certificate shouldn’t be a requirement before entering Ghana where it is not an area of risk.
Since it is not a pandemic, travelers on arrival at the Kotoka International Airport can be advised to take the vaccine in case their last vaccination has expired at the Airport clinic instead of making it a visa restriction to bar Ghanaians with foreign passports to visit Ghana.
Aside the huge costs involved in purchasing air tickets and visa, the $300 single dose of yellow fever vaccine is really costly and scaring travelers to Ghana therefore the plea by Ghanaians with forign passports to remove the yellow fever certificate as visa requirement.