Ghana is optimistic that it will soon be certified as polio-free country by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Ayittey, has said.
She said such optimism was grounded on the fact that the country had not experienced an outbreak of polio since 2008.
Additionally, the country’s immunisation coverage of polio has also been very encouraging.
Speaking at the joint commemoration of the African vaccination and child health promotion week in Accra yesterday, Ms Ayittey said immunisation was one of the most successful cost-effective health interventions capable of preventing between two and three million deaths a year.
Immunisation prevents unbearable illness, disability and death from preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and halophilous influenza.
The theme for the vaccination week is: “Vaccinate, Prevent Disabilities, Save Lives”, while the child week is on the theme: “Healthy Children, Great Future”.
Ms Ayittey said the commemoration was in conformity with one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which called for a reduction in child mortality by two- thirds.
She said currently the benefits of immunisation were increasingly being extended to adolescents and adults, providing protection against life-threatening diseases such as cervical cancer.
She said at the 60th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa member states represented by their health ministers adopted a resolution to institutionalise an annual African Vaccination
Week with the aim of sustaining advocacy for immunisation, broadening awareness of vaccine preventable diseases, expanding community participation and improving immunisation service delivery.
The Programmes Manager of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Nana K. O. Antwi-Agyei, said four million children died in Africa, and that out of every 1,000 African children, 174 died before the age of five, while half of them died from malnutrition, adding that one million African children’s death could be prevented with existing vaccines.
Story: Mary Mensah