The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has assured that the country will in the coming weeks take delivery of some quantities of measles vaccines to deal with the shortages being recorded in all 16 regions.
According to him the Ministry of Health had been seriously concerned about the situation and its effect on the vaccination programme in the country, stressing that “This is a major source of worry for the ministry, partners, caregivers, and the population.”
Addressing the media in Accra yesterday, he said the MOH was aware of the implications of the shortages including disease outbreaks, and effects on child survival.
The minister explained that the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) had been a flagship disease control programme in the country and arguably one of the best programmes in the sub-region with high coverage levels of over 95 per cent.
“We have an established system for forecasting, procurement, supply and distribution of routine vaccines, and monitoring their use,” he emphasised.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said even though it was true that there had been some vaccine shortages in the country since the last quarter of 2022, the situation was as a
result of some global challenges.
He noted that the vaccines in short supply were BCG, Measles-Rubella (MR), and Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), adding that “The recent shortage in vaccines for measles, as regrettable as it is, is symptomatic of the steady global decline in measles vaccination since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Quoting from the World Health Organisation’s publication, he noted that the whole world shifted attention to the COVID-19 pandemic to the neglect of other vaccines leading to global decline in measles vaccines.
He explained that over the last two years a total of 40million children had missed their first dose leading to nine million cases with 120,000 deaths.
Despite this, he said the MOH had been making efforts to ensure it secured adequate stocks of vaccines stressing that “we have made all necessary efforts to ensure that despite these challenges we secure adequate stocks within the next few weeks.”
Mr Agyeman-Manu said Ghanaians must discard the erroneous impression that there had been deaths from measles in Ghana recently.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there have been no deaths from the recently recorded spike in measles cases.
Indeed there have been no deaths since 2003 though we have recorded cases annually,” he emphasised.
He said despite the challenge, the country’s immunisation performance coverage remained among the best in the world.
“Working with UNICEF, we are fast-tracking the processes and it is expected that the vaccines would be supplied in the next few weeks All things being equal,” he said.
The minister asked Ghanaians to discard the propaganda and lies that the situation had been subjected to and exercise patience as all the necessary measures were put in place to address the situation.
He categorically denied the country owed GAVI, the agency in charge of the global vaccine programme
BY CLIFF EKUFUL