The Ghana Health Service is to introduce two vaccines – Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) and Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine through the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in September this year, and January next year.
The two vaccines are to protect children under 18 years from polio and meningitis.
The Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine would be used for children in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions where Meningitis is more prevalent.
Briefing the media to jointly launch the Fifth African Vaccination Week (AVW) and Child Health Promotion Week (CHPW) in Accra, Dr George Bonsu, EPI Programme Manager said the immunization of the two vaccines would be part of the routine immunization services.
The 2015 Vaccination Week is on the general theme: “Vaccination, A Gift For Life,” is slated for Friday April 24 to Thursday April 30.
Dr Bonsu noted that the routine and rigorous immunization exercises embarked on by Ghana had resulted in Ghana being among nations eliminating neonatal tetanus since 2011.
Ghana, he said, had since 2003, not documented deaths due to measles, whilst the country had been free from polio since 2008. Pneumonia and Diarrhea in children had also drastically reduced in cases.
All these achievements have contributed to the reduction of under-five mortality from 111 per 1,.000 live births in 2003 to 60 per 1000 live births in 2014, according to the Ghana Demographic Health Survey.
He noted that there were over 200 diseases, but only 12 were being vaccinated against, adding; “We have a system of monitoring safety all the time in all parts of the country”.
Dr Bonsu explained that during the vaccination week in 2014, 109,970 infants were not vaccinated, adding, “If this continues, vaccine-preventable diseases will not be curtailed and gains made would be reversed”.
Dr Edward Antwi of the CHPW Planning Committee said two out of 100 newborns died before their first month, five out of 100 children died before their first birthdays, whilst eight out of 100 died before their fifth birthday.
He explained that most of the deaths were preventable, and urged mothers to always visit the hospital during pregnancy and after delivery for them and their babies to be immunized to save their lives.
Dr Magda Robalo, World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative in Ghana, in a speech read on her behalf, said three million children under five years died each year in African of preventable vaccine diseases.
She expressed WHO’s continuous support and collaboration to strengthen the health system, in order to attain the universal health coverage, as well as protect the fundamental human right to health for all.
Dr Gloria Quansah-Asare, Deputy Director-General of GHS, who presided, commended health personnel for the tremendous efforts in achieving these successes.
She urged regional and district coordinating councils, traditional and religious leaders, as well as communities, to take active part in all the activities to promote the health and well-being of the children.
The exercise is to vaccinate children under five every day within the week and throughout the year, whilst the CHPW would be on the theme: “I am a newborn, keep me clean, help me live”.
The project also aims at renewing national efforts to accelerate actions to increase awareness and demand for immunization.
It will also increase stakeholders’ awareness, promote and maintain immunization as a priority, increase demand for utilization of immunization services, and promote the integration of other child survival interventions.