President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said his government is taking steps to ensure that vaccines, especially childhood vaccines are immediately procured and supplied as a matter of emergency.
He mentioned that the country’s drone delivery service is firmly established and Ghana now has six centres for Zipline drone services, making Ghana the largest aerial logistics distribution network in the world.
Zipline, through the national-scale drone delivery services, has delivered some 14.8 million (14,809,463) units of life-saving medicals, vaccines, and blood products to health facilities in Ghana by the end of 2022 as childhood vaccines top the list with the delivery of 8.3 million doses, followed by 2.05 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
The absence of vaccines essential to tuberculosis/polio in babies, as well as others including measles and whooping-cough, puts millions of children at risk of contracting these diseases.
President Akufo-Addo said in his State of the Nation address delivered today March 8 said “Mr. Speaker, I must say, however, that the current shortage of some childhood vaccines in the country has concerned me greatly. This shortage, if prolonged, will affect negatively Ghana’s Childhood Immunisation Programme, which has been recognised as one of the most successful in the world. The WHO has only recently expressed worry about a steady decline in measles vaccination coverage globally, because of the concentration on the fight against COVID-19.
“In accordance with our desire not to become part of this global trend, Government has taken steps to ensure that stocks of these vaccines are procured and supplied, as a matter of emergency. The Ghana Health Service has developed an elaborate programme to catch up on children who have missed their vaccinations immediately stocks arrive.”
He therefore encouraged all parents and caregivers to ensure that eligible children are vaccinated, once the programme begins.
“No child should be denied access to vaccination. Mercifully, so far, not a single child has died as a result of the outbreak.
“This House has already passed into law the National Vaccine Institute Bill, which is yet to be brought for my assent. In the near future, this Institute will ensure that, no matter what happens to the global vaccine supply chain, we can produce our own vaccines locally.”
This comes after report of a widespread shortage of some vaccines used for routine immunisation of babies from birth to at least 18-months. The situation has the potential of increasing the children’s vulnerability to diseases the vaccines aim to protect them against.
Already, 120 children have reportedly been infected with measles in the northern regions, and many more across the country could suffer a similar fate.
By Vincent Kubi