The Ghana Health Service (GHS) will from Thursday, begin round two immunisation of all children under five years against the poliovirus type 2, in eight regions of the country.
The exercise will cover regions including the Western, Western North, Upper West, Oti, Ashanti, Eastern, Volta and the Greater Accra regions.
Dr Kwame Amponsa-Acjiano, Programme Manager of the Extended Programme on Immunisation (EPI), addressing journalists at a news conference in Accra on Monday, said the round two vaccination, expected to end on Sunday, September 13, 2020 would target 4, 568,864 children in 179 districts of the country.
A third round will follow from October 8 to 11, 2020, targeting the same figure.
According to the programme manager, immunisation of children under five had become necessary following the confirmation of 31 cases of circulating vaccine derived polio virus type 2 (cVDPV2) in 11 out of Ghana’s 16 regions from July 2019 to date.
Nineteen cases, he disclosed, were recorded in 2019 and 12 cases recorded this year.
Dr Amponsa-Acjiano said the target group who are most susceptible to the virus would be given the oral polio vaccine (OPV) to boost their immunity and protect them against lifelong polio paralysis.
The vaccine will also help break transmission of the cVDPV2 strain, strengthen surveillance and prevent further polio outbreaks in the country.
Dr Amponsa-Acjiano noted that although the World Health Organisation (WHO) had certified Africa free from wild poliovirus, Ghana is still challenged with non-wild type circulating vaccine derived poliovirus outbreaks in parts of the country.
The cVDPV2 eruptions, he pointed out, was linked to outbreaks on the West Africa sub-region adding that “once the population is fully immunised against polio, it will be protected against both wild and non-wild polio as there will be no chance for circulating vaccine derived poliovirus to emerge.”
The Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, in a remark mentioned that an initial round of polio immunisation started in March this year, had to be halted due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
The renewed campaign which will be conducted mainly from house to house in selected districts as well as at designated points in health facilities, he said, was safe and effective at protecting children from polio.
The DG thus encouraged all parents to ensure that their children are immunised, assuring that all health workers engaged to undertake the exercise had been trained on COVID-19 preventive protocols so as not to expose parents and their children to the infection.
“I wish to assure the general public that the vaccine is safe and effective in protecting children from the disabling and potentially deadly disease and is free of charge,” he said.
It would be recalled that the GHS in August last year declared a public health emergency following the detection of polio virus type 2 in a two-year old girl at Chereponi in the North East Region and Agbogbloshie in the Accra metropolis of the Greater Accra Region.
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease that largely affects children under five years of age.
The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route through contaminated water or food and multiplies in the intestines from where it subsequently invades the nervous system causing paralysis most often in the limbs.
Symptoms of polio may include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, neck stiffness and pains in the limbs.
Treatment is mainly supportive and can be prevented through vaccination, improved sanitation and personal hygiene.
PIBY ABIGAIL ANNOH