Emergency Polio Vaccination Reaches 989,558 Children

Dr. Mrs. Charity Sarpong

Nine hundred and eighty nine thousand, five hundred and fifty eight children under five years have been immunized against polio in the first phase of the emergency polio response vaccination campaign in the Greater Accra region.

The active vaccination campaign undertaken from the 11th to 14th September 2019, exceeded the regional estimate of 988,615 children, representing 100.03 per cent of the targeted population in the capital.

The emergency vaccination exercise by the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of health was to prevent human transmission of the virus after it was detected in the Agbogbloshie environment in the Greater Accra Region by the National Polio Laboratory at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.

Before the discovery of the virus in the Capital on 8th July, 2019, Type 2 circulating Polio Virus was confirmed from an environmental sample obtained on 11th June 2019 from the drain in Koblimahgu environmental site which is one of the 2 sites in the Northern Region.

The strain was linked to one isolated from a case of Acute Flacid Paralysis (AFP) in Nigeria in 2018 which resulted in enhance surveillance and active case search in the country.

Data from the health service revealed that on 17th August, 2019, a polio case in a two-years eight-months old girl in Chereponi, Northern Region was recorded, triggering a national emergency response including advocacy, communication and social mobilization on vaccination and environmental hygiene.

Head of the Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate, Dr. Charity Sarpong, who disclosed this in an interview with DGN Online, said the detection of the virus and response attests to the strong surveillance system of the health sector.

She said the first phase of the campaign which was also carried out in the northern regions deployed the use of health officers as well as volunteers in the campaign.

Dr. Sarpong said so far there has been good response from the public, adding that a more positive response would be necessary in the second phase of the campaign scheduled to take place from 25th to 28th September 2019.

She said the campaign was exclusive of the routine immunization of children, stating that children under the age of five irrespective of the vaccination they have received and the time it was given should be allowed to be given the polio vaccine.

“It is safe and will not interfere with the child’s health,” she added.

Dr. Sarpong further called for public adherence to proper sanitation which is a major factor in the transmission of the viral disease.

“Polio is an infectious disease that affects both children and adults, but children under 5 years of age are most at risk because it can paralyze and even cause death,” she said.

She indicated that Polio has no cure, but can only be prevented through immunization, good hygiene and sanitation practices.

“It enters the body through water or food that has been contaminated with infected faeces, when you see signs and symptoms of fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, pain and weakness in the limbs of children please report to the nearest health facility,” she stated.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri