Vaccine shortage: Govt to take delivery of new vaccine stock next week – Health Minister

The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has disclosed that government has made payment to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the supply of childhood vaccines that are in short supply in the country.

He told Parliament in a statement yesterday that the ministry placed the order a week ago and was working with the UN agency to fast-track the supply process.

“We are making all necessary efforts to ensure that we secure adequate stocks of childhood vac­cines that are in short supply in the country within the next two to three weeks, all things being equal.

“We have done all the necessary arrangements with the UNICEF and we are doing all things possible to get these vaccines earlier,” he as­sured the legislature in an update on the nationwide vaccine shortage.

The timelines, however, for the delivery of the vaccines, Mr Agyeman-Manu, MP, Dormaa Central said could not be told but said it would not be too late for children waiting to be vaccinated.

“The specific time frame to put on the arrival of these vaccines will be very difficult for me to assure the House.

“It will not be too late for chil­dren who are waiting to be vacci­nated when the vaccines arrive.”

According to him, of the 10 different vaccines for child immu­nisation in Ghana against 13 dis­eases, four is 100 per cent funded by the government of Ghana with the remaining six co-funded by GAVI Vaccine Alliance.

Three of the four fully funded by the government of Ghana – BCG, Measles Rubella (MR) and Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) – he told the lawmakers, have been hit by the shortage.

He revealed that the shortage “regrettably coincided with the performance of the economy towards the second half of last year and this affected our normal procurement processes which resulted in delays for vaccines we would have needed in 2023.

“Despite the delay in our pro­curement processes, we had stocks which carried us through 2022, re­sulting in our end of year national coverage of 95 per cent measles, OPV, 90 per cent and BCG 96 per cent.”

The minister declared what he called “outbreak situation” in five districts in the Northern Region; namely Tamale Metro, Kumbungu, Savelugu, Karaga and Nanumba North.

That outbreak situation not­withstanding, vaccination coverage for those five districts was high with the least, Nanumba North, registering 74.2 per cent coverage.

“We believe this is enough to prevent an outbreak,” because the main cause of measles outbreak has been accumulation of unvac­cinated persons over a period of time.

“This is why the country has been conducting mass catch-up and follow-up measles (and rubel­la) vaccination campaigns every three to five years with support from Gavi, WHO, UNICEF and other partners,” he said adding that “mercifully, no child has died in this outbreak.”


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