Children being administered with the new vaccines
THE Ghana Health Service (GHS) has introduced two new vaccines to be administered to children under five years to enhance their healthy growth and development.
The vaccines to be administered on May 2, this year are pneumococcal and rotavirus.
Dr. Kwadwo Odei Antwi-Agyei, Head of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) briefing the press in Accra on Thursday said the vaccines were to reduce the rate of infant mortality.
He stated that the magnitude of vaccine preventable diseases through immunization, is an essential component of primary healthcare delivery adding that the vaccines are to fight against pneumonia, diarrhoea and other infectious diseases that are prevalent among children, which resulted in death.
Dr. Antwi-Agyei said the incidence of childhood killer diseases in the country had declined significantly due to the importance that the public attached to the immunization exercises and appealed for similar importance to be attached to the new vaccines.
He noted that the target of GHS and the government is to reduce child mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015 stating that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals on child mortality by 2015 would be a mirage if the project is not given the needed support, especially from the public.
Since 1992, Dr. Antwi-Agyei said a number of vaccines including that of Yellow Fever, Hepatitis B, had been introduced to reduce significantly or totalling eliminating child mortality.
He said at least 20,000 children die every day from various ailments with 5,000 of them being from preventable diseases and urged parents, churches and social groups to join the campaign on the new vaccine.
Dr. Antwi-Agyei mentioned leading cause of death among children under five years as malaria, 33 per cent, neonatal, 28 per cent, pneumonia 15 per cent and diarrhoea constituting 12 per cent.
The Acting Director General of Ghana Health Service, Dr. Frank Nyonator said 100 years ago, infectious diseases were the world’s leading cause of death with smallpox killing up to five million people each year and leaving countless others disfigured or blind.
“Today, immunization is a global public health success story and in 1979, as a result of the first worldwide immunization campaign, smallpox was certified to be eradicated”, he said.
Immunization, he said, had saved over 20 million lives over the past two decades and enabled others to live longer and healthier live adding that polio was on the verge of eradication.
Dr. Nyonator said due to the successes in immunization programme in Ghana, no person had died from measles over the past nine years adding that neonatal tetanus cases had reduced from 109 cases in 1997 to only one case in 2010.
Deputy Minister of Health, Robert Joseph Mettle Nonoo, who chaired the function commended the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization for supporting the government in its quest to deal with infant mortality related diseases and urged the public to join the campaign.
He said when children were vaccinated against diseases and were healthy, it would reduce the financial burden on parents.