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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Mass measles campaign begins

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Personnel of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) will between November 3 and 6 immunise children from nine months to five years against one of the childhood killer diseases, measles.

Mass measles campaigns are organised to vaccinate large number of children within a short period to prevent measles outbreaks and also break transmission if any. During the period, measles vaccination is given as an injection on the child’s left upper arm by a trained health worker.

Children within that age group will also be given Vitamin A capsules to make them strong and immune against certain diseases.

Measles is a dangerous disease which kills children. It is caused by a small germ called the measles virus.

Signs and symptoms of measles include fever, skin rash, runny nose and cough. Some complications of the disease are diarrhoea, brain damage, pneumonia, eye infection/blindness, sores in the mouth. If not well-treated, the disease could also lead to the death of an affected child.

As part of the campaign, the Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate organised a stakeholders’ meeting recently to solicit support for a successful exercise in the region.

Participants in the meeting were media personnel, representatives from the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Ghana Health Service, Ghana Education Service, Ghana Police Service, Coalition of NGOs in Health, National Association of Private Schools, National Population Council and the Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC).

Addressing the participants, the Greater Accra Regional Deputy Director in charge of Public Health, Dr Edward Antwi, said during the
period, immunisation centres would be created within the communities where children could be sent for the vaccines, adding that the vaccine was the same as the one which had been used over the years and proven to be safe

He said a total of 657,352 children were expected to be immunised during the period and advised parents to send their children to immunisations centres for the vaccination irrespective of whether they had received previous doses or not.

The advise health personnel give is that when any of such symptoms or others occur, parents are to send the child to the nearest health facility for proper assessment and management.

In Ghana, the introduction of immunisation against childhood killer diseases, like measles has improved the health of children over the years. For the past eight years, no child has died from measles in the country. The total number of children who get measles has also reduced drastically.

However, measles outbreak continue to occur in some parts of the country mostly in children under five years. To keep measles under control in the country, over 90 per cent of the children need to be vaccinated against the disease through the normal routine immunisation. In addition, regular mass measles campaigns, just as the one scheduled to come off between today 3 and Saturday November 6, are needed to vaccinate large numbers of children within a short period to prevent measles outbreaks.

Recommended Strategies which the health sector has adopted over the years to reduce measles morbidity and mortality are: Ensuring high routine immunisation coverage; providing the first dose to all children less than one year; providing a second opportunity for measles vaccination for all children through routine immunisation; establishing measles case-based surveillance and laboratory confirmation and also improving case management of measles case.

To ensure a successful campaign, parents have been advised to take all children aged nine months to under five years to the nearest immunisation post to be immunised irrespective of their measles immunisation status.

Measles vaccination, according to health workers, protects children from measles infection. A trained health worker will give the injection on the left upper arm.

It is important to take campaign seriously because measles is a dangerous disease, which kills children.

Dr Antwi called on all stakeholders within the region to play their respective roles to ensure that every child within the specific age bracket was vaccinated.

In her presentation, the Head of Health Promotion Unit of the Regional Health Directorate, Ms Honesty Numetu, said although the vaccine was safe, some children might react to it and mentioned some of the reactions as fever, pain at the site of the injection, redness and swelling at the site of the injection and rashes.

She, therefore, advised parents to send any child who presented any of such symptoms to the nearest health facility for proper assessment and management.

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