National Polio immunisation launched

Ghanaians must assist in strengthening routine immunization in the country, by making newborns and children less than five years available for this year’s National Polio Immunization, Dr. George Bonsu, National Programme Manager, for the Extended Programme on Immunization (EPI) has said.

That, he said, was necessary in order to prevent the importation of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) into the nation as well as maintain Ghana’s gains in polio eradication.

He made the call in Accra yesterday, at the launch of this year’s Sub–National Immunization Days (NID) against Polio, slated for tomorrow to Saturday.

The NID was launched by Dr. Afiza Zachariah, Ag. Director-General of the Ghana Health Service on behalf of the Minister for Health, Mr. Alexander Segbefia.

Dr. Bonsu stated that 2,865,408 children in 108 selected districts across the country had been earmarked for vaccination against Polio.

Approximately 22,424 volunteers will move from house to house, lorry stations, schools, market places, border crossing points with neighboring countries to conduct the one round of a sub-national polio vaccination campaign.

According to Dr. Bonsu, polio was likely to threaten children everywhere, including Ghana, as long as the circulation of polio virus existed in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He noted that Ghana had made strides in the elimination of Poliomyelitis and that no case of polio had been recorded in the country since 2008.

He said polio had no cure but could be prevented through vaccinations and each child needed about 10-15 doses to be protected, stating that two dose of the polio vaccine during the NIDs do not replace routine immunization.

The Minister of Health Mr. Alexander Segbefia, in a speech read on his behalf, called on every Ghanaian, especially parents to ensure that children and babies were free from polio.

He noted that this year marks the beginning of a series of activities towards the final eradication of Poliomyelitis across the world.

“A person can get infected with polio if he or she comes into contact with faeces from the hand to the mouth, hence the need for enhanced personal hygiene at all times,” he said.

Dr. Prosper Tumusiime, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Ghana, lauded Ghana for completing plans to introduce the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) into the routine immunization program early next year.

He suggested that the Ghana Health Service (GHS) intensifies efforts on the surveillance on the Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP), an indicator for the eradication of the WPV in the country.

From October 1996 to date, Ghana has conducted 49 vaccination campaigns against polio, with 196,320,587 doses of polio vaccines administered to children under five.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus and mainly affects children under five years of age.

The virus invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. It is transmitted mainly through faecal-oral route and multiplies in the intestines.

By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey                                            


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