The Wa Municipal Directorate of the Ghana Health Service would embark on a massive free vaccination against Cerebral Spinal Meningitis (CSM) with a new vaccine known as the Meningitis Type ‘A’ Vaccine (MenAfriVac Tm-1).
The exercise which is targeted at children and adults between the ages of one to 29, would last between 9 and18th October, and is expected to cover about 95 per cent of the target population.
Mrs. Beatrice Kumfah, the Wa Municipal Director of Health Services, at a stakeholders meeting in Wa on Tuesday, said about 64 health workers would be deployed to carry out the exercise across the length and breadth of the Municipality.
The Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) which was initiated in 2001, is a partnership between the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), with the core funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The goal is to eliminate epidemic meningitis as a public health problem in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Mrs. Kumfah said volunteers would not be used in the vaccination process because of the technicalities involved but would rather be used for crowd control and community mobilization.
She appealed to the stakeholders especially the media and teachers of various schools and institutions within the Municipality to help carry out education on the vaccination exercise to prevent people outside the target population from being vaccinated.
Mrs. Kumfah said children are most vulnerable to the CSM type “A” disease, adding that if targeted population were all covered in the vaccination then everybody would have been automatically protected.
Jacob Kojo Aleeba, the Municipal Disease Control Officer, said five types of meningitis, namely; type A, B, C, Y, W135, are common in Ghana but type A, C, and W135 were responsible for almost all outbreaks in Ghana.
He said these epidemics occurred every year with recurrent peaks at every eight to 12 years.
For example, in 1996/7 season, Neisseria Meningitis (Nm) ‘A’ group was responsible for a massive epidemic in Ghana during which about 18,703 cases with 1,356 deaths were recorded mostly from the three Northern Regions.
The mode of spread according to the Disease Control Officer was from person-to-person contact with respiratory droplets of infected people among others.
Mr. Aleeba mentioned intense headache, fever, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and photophobia as some of the symptoms of the disease.
He said the risk factors for meningitis include medical conditions, demographic conditions, socio-economic conditions and climatic conditions, saying that the disease took heavy socio-economic and human toll on the northern sector.