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The Ghana Health Service and its development partners are working towards reducing meningitis related maternal and infant mortality by ensuring all children age one to 29 are vaccinated with a new Cerebro Spinal Meningitis Vaccine known at MenAfriVac.
The Men A conjugate Vaccine (MenAfriVac) will first be introduced in campaign mode in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions targeting 3 million representing 70% of the total population of the three regions.
The campaign would start from October 2 to 12, 2012 in all the nine districts in the region, Dr. Kofi Issah, Deputy Director of Public Health, said when briefing the media and other stakeholders in the health sector on the MenAfriVac Vaccine mass campaign in Wa on Thursday.
Dr. Issah said 582,555 quantities of the 10-dose vial of the MenAfriVac Vaccine, which is a special vaccine against Neisseria meningitis (Nm) serotype A, a bacterium that causes disease only in humans, are required in the region.
He said 493,687 out of the total population of 705,268 people in the region would be vaccinated with 370 vaccinators made of health workers, 1,111 volunteers and 94 supervisors participating in the exercise.
The campaign would cost 3 32,253 Ghana cedis which would be used to cater for staff, volunteers and driver allowances and fuel expenses.
Dr. Issah said the introduction of the vaccine, unlike the polysaccharide vaccine which is used for responsive vaccination during outbreaks, would help prevent huge outbreaks of meningitis whose epidemics are mostly due to infections with Nm serotype A, C and W135 considered being the largest burden of disease in the three regions.
He said individual protection against the disease would help reduce asymptomatic carriage while herd immunity would also lead to protection of unvaccinated individuals and reduce meningitis morbidity and mortality as well as epidemics caused by Nm A.
It is expected that more than 95% of 1-29 years of age, who formed the most vulnerable group in the regions, would be vaccinated.
A pharmaco-vigilance system for monitoring adverse events following the immunization would be established while a case-based surveillance system for cerebrospinal meningitis would also be strengthened.
Dr. Issah explained that the seasonal peak period of meningitis outbreaks is between December and June when the weather is dry, windy and dusty with cold nights.
He urged the stakeholders to play their roles appropriately by using advocacy, education and social mobilization as well as monitoring and supervision among others to ensure successful implementation of the campaign.