A child receiving the polio vaccine
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has announced that it will be embarking on a nationwide polio vaccination for every child under five years of age.
The move by the service is to curb the further spread of the virus which has been recorded since June 2019. So far, 10 cases of polio have been reported in some parts of the country since June.
GHS began a two-phase emergency polio immunization exercise in the Greater Accra and the Northern regions in September, this year, following the confirmation of polio in a two-year-old girl in the Chereponi District of the Northern Region and in some parts of Agbogbloshie.
The Head of Disease Surveillance at GHS, Dr. Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, said new cases of polio had been confirmed in the Oti and Bono regions.
He said before the nationwide exercise would begin next year, children in selected districts where fresh cases had been found would be vaccinated.
He said hopefully, early next year, the GHS would start a nationwide polio vaccination campaign to cover the whole country, adding that a lot of work was also being done by the health partners to ensure that there was no complications or minimal effects with the current vaccines.
Dr. Asiedu-Bekoe made the announcement on the sidelines of the second Scientific Conference and Competency Graduation Ceremony of the Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (GFELTP) in Accra.
The conference was themed: “Building and Sustaining Field Epidemiology Workforce through GFELTP: The Role of Government, Private Sector and Institutional Partners”.
At the end of the conference, 58 field epidemiologists made up of 28 frontline officers, 15 intermediate officers and 15 advanced officers were graduated.
Explaining the seeming upsurge in polio cases, Dr. Asiedu-Bekoe said the world had been polio-free for most countries except Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but until recently, there had been an upsurge in the disease in some African countries, including Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo.
He explained that Ghana was now doing a multiple-prone approach to address the threat of polio, which included “ensuring that our vaccination is intact”.
According to Dr. Asiedu-Bekoe, keeping a clean environment was very important as polio is a faecal-oral disease.
Mr. Fred Osei Sarpong, Immunization Focal Person, World Health Organization, said, “With polio cases being reported in Angola, Nigeria, Benin and other neighbouring countries, Ghana isn’t safe.”
“The virus is in the sub-region that is why we have to make sure everyone is protected; that is why we will call on all caregivers to make sure they send their kids for vaccination. Once your child is protected, you don’t have a cause to worry,” he added.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri