Veep Launches National Measles Campaign - 4.3million Children To Be Vaccinated
Vice-President John Dramani Mahama has launched the national campaign against measles, which will witness the vaccination of 4.3 million children aged nine months to under five years.
The exercise, which will begin from November 3-6, will also involve the administration of vitamin A capsules to the children to protect their eye sights and their ability to fight illnesses.
About 8,000 health teams and more than 24,000 volunteers will undertake the exercise which is to cost the country GHC7.5 million. Cost per child vaccinated and dosed with vitamin A is GHC1.74.
Launching the campaign, Vice-President Mahama urged parents and guardians to ensure that their wards were sent to the immunisation centres, which would be mounted in their communities. He particularly urged the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies and civil society organisations to mobilise the communities for the exercise.
"Children are our future leaders and they bring so much joy into our lives. We, therefore, owe an obligation to protect them from harm and disease," he said.
Vice-President Mahama said Ghana had made a lot of progress in the global efforts towards the eradication of measles, saying the number of reported cases dropped from 140,000 in 1980 to about 12,000 cases before the catch-up measles campaign in 2002.
The remarkable achievements notwithstanding, he noted that there was still strong evidence to suggest that it was not possible to control measles by providing only one dose, especially in a country where the dose was provided when the child was nine months old.
There was, therefore, the need to provide supplemental immunisation to ensure protection of the vulnerable groups in addition to sustaining high immunisation coverage to accelerate the control of measles.
Vice-President Mahama cautioned that "We have five years to go to the MDG target year 2015. We need to exert a coordinated push to accelerate progress in achieving the targets. That, he said, was indispensable because measuring progress in a country was no longer based on GDP but on the Human Development Index.
Dr. Antwi-Agyei, Programme Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation said the campaign was also to maintain the gains in reducing measles morbidity and mortality achieved in the country over the past eight years where no child had died from measles.
He said the vaccinations would not be carried out from house to house but would be done at fixed sites, adding, the side effects from the administration of the vaccine would be minimal. "Every team will handle 600 children and the vaccinations will take place concurrently " he said.
Dr. Antwi-Agyei said mobile teams would also go to Island areas in the Volta Lake to vaccinate eligible children. He said children aged nine months to under five years, irrespective of their immunisation status should be taken to the nearest immunisation post during the campaign, to be immunised.
Mr. Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, Deputy Minister of Health stressed the need to ensure that Ghana became a nation of healthy children and looked forward to the day that children would no longer live under measles disease.
Dr. Iyabode Olusanmi, UNICEF Represented in Ghana who spoke on behalf of the UN team and the development partners commended the country for the strides it had made in the fight against measles but cautioned against complacency, saying, there was the need for an additional push to eradicate measles.
Measles, a dangerous disease caused by a small germ called the measles virus, is transmitted from person to person when droplets containing the virus is discharged from a patient's mouth or nose when the patient's coughs or sneezes are inhaled by another person.
Fever, skin rash, running nose and cough are signs and symptoms of the disease which if not well treated, could develop complications such as diarrhoea, brain damage, pneumonia, eye infections/blindness, ear infections/deafness, and sores in the mouth.