Bill Gates arrives in Ghana on immunization tour
World number two billionaire and philanthropist, Bill Gates arrived in Ghana March 25, 2013.
The founder of Microsoft blogged on his website that he is in Ghana to “see firsthand why the country’s immunization system is working so well.”
“I arrive in Ghana today to see firsthand why the country’s immunization system is working so well and meet the people involved,” he wrote.
According to Gates, health delivery systems for some people might not seem like the most intriguing topic, but “I am really interested in understanding how they’ve done so much of this right.”
He stated that Ghana’s approach to immunization works so well for a few key reasons: Rigorous data gathering and analysis, accountability at the district level, and community outreach.
“Just as importantly, the vaccination programme is fully integrated into the health system. But there’s really no substitute for seeing it on the ground,” Mr Gates added.
He argues that strong immunization systems are crucial for protecting the gains against polio and helping to reach mothers and children with new vaccines and other life-saving health services.
Citing Ghana as an example, Mr Gates said polio was eliminated a decade ago and an outbreak in 2008 was quickly controlled. “No child there has died from measles since 2002. And Ghana was the first country to launch two new vaccines last April, against rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhea, and pneumococcal pneumonia” he noted.
According Gates, he will visit a director of health services in a district in central Ghana o March 26, 2013, then a nearby clinic.
He continued blogging that “We’re then going to visit a community health center where the nurses also go out to find mothers who missed appointments or children due for immunizations to make the program as thorough as possible.”
As he wrote in his annual letter this year, Gates said measurement is crucial for improving health care, so at every stop I want to understand how the data is collected and used for planning and decision making – and meet the people who are making this success possible.
Gates says he plans to share “my experience in Ghana at the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi April 24-25, where global health leaders will celebrate progress in immunization and demonstrate how the world is united to give all children a healthy start to life.”
He indicated that no system is perfect, so he want to learn about the obstacles and challenges in Ghana as well.
“I’ll speak with many of the leaders who are working so hard to reach every child with vaccines, including Dr K.O. Antwi-Agyei, who manages the national immunization programme,” he mentioned.
He adds “I’m also excited to talk to some of the well-trained community health nurses and meet some of their local clients.”
Mr Gates promised in his next post that he will tell some of the lessons that can be learnt from Ghana’s success.
By Ekow Quandzie