Ghana: Immediate Immunisation of Children Expected

For the importance of chil­dren as the future of every society, every country tries as much as possible to safeguard their health.

It is unfortunate that in par­ticularly sub-Saharan countries like Ghana, poverty or lack of the needed funds leaves loop­holes in childcare.

Against this background, the Ghanaian Times is happy that yesterday, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) announced receiving three out of the 13 childhood disease vaccines that had been in short supply in the country since the last quarter of last year.

The three are Measles-Ru­bella, Oral Poliomyelitis vaccine (OPD) and Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), which is for tuberculosis (TB).

The 13 vaccines together are mostly believed to fight six childhood diseases, namely diphtheria, measles, pertussis, poliomyelitis, tetanus, and tuberculosis.

A 2001 study by Philomena Nyarko, Brian Wells Pence and Cornelius Debpuur titled ‘Immunisation status and child survival in rural Ghana’, states among other findings that numerous studies have found that measles vaccination programmes substantial­ly reduce all-cause child mortality.

Besides, concerning all-cause mortality among vaccinated and unvacci­nated children under five years of age, the data indicate that coverage by one Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) shot, three sets of polio drops, and three DPT shots together reduce mortality be­tween ages four and eight months by nearly 90 per cent.

And that complete coverage by all Expanded Programme on Immuni­sation antigens reduces mortality between ages nine and 59 months by 70 per cent.

Meanwhile BCG, polio, and DPT vaccines with­out measles vaccination reduce mortality by just 40 per cent.

This means the coun­try needs all the vaccines for effective vaccination programme.

Even though the re­searchers called for further studies into the childhood disease vaccines because of some findings from Guinea-Bissau that suggested that diphthe­ria, pertussis, and teta­nus (DPT) vaccine may increase all-cause child mortality, we are yet to have substantial evidence to disprove the efficacy of these vaccines.

It is interesting to note that the study in refer­ence used five years of data from the Navrongo Demographic Surveillance System, a longitudinal population registration system in northern Gha­na, meaning it is home-brewed.

That is to say that so far in Ghana, there is no evidence that the vaccines are not efficacious.

The country’s problem was rather non-availability of the full complement of the vaccines, which we think could have undermined any effective vaccination against the six childhood diseases.

It is heart-warming that the vaccines came with the needed devices, including needles, syringes and safety boxes for their immediate administration.

This means that there should not be any excuse whatsoever for delays in administering them to safeguard the health of the targeted children.

We only pray that there will be no hitches regarding the delivery of the consignments to their various regional cold rooms for onward delivery to the districts and facilities with effect from today.

We think the government and state officials who repre­sented it to get the vaccines in deserve some commendation, even though they were obligat­ed to discharge that duty.

The efforts they made in the face of the difficulties to procure the vaccines should be emulated by public officials in other state institutions who sleep on the job.

It is good news to hear from the GHS that per the country’s vaccination policy, all children who missed their scheduled vaccines are still eligible for the vaccination.

We hope GHS will organise a successful immunisation for these children and others who have qualified for it.

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