GAVI works to sustain child immunization at Asokore Mampong

Aba Oppong of CEDEP in a community sensitization session

Aba Oppong of CEDEP in a community sensitization session

Child health is an important component of the quality of health within local communities.

However, the immunization coverage within the Asokore Mampong Municipal Assembly of the Ashanti region is 24% — far below the national average.

The Asokore Mampong Municipal Assembly is one of the recently upgraded districts in the Ashanti region, with a population of over 300 thousand.

Local communities include the Asokore Mampong township, Akorem, Asawasi, Dagombaline, Aboabo No1, Aboabo No2, Sepe, Dote, Sawaba, and Adukrom.

Unfortunately, the Assembly is the last of all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) regarding immunization in Ghana.

Strong health systems are therefore needed to deliver and scale-up new vaccines and to improve immunization coverage and equity.

The Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health is therefore implementing a project to increase access to immunization to improve health service delivery and save the lives of children.

This is under the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) Health System Strengthening cash-based support programme.

GAVI will be undertaken in 20 MMDAs where the immunization rate is less than 90%. The Asokore Mampong Municipal is therefore one of the 20 local assemblies.

The Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) is coordinating NGO for the project. The two supporting NGOs are Muslim Family Counseling Services and Resource Link Foundation.

“The benefits of the GAVI project to citizens of Asokore Mampong include protecting the entire district, saving families’ time and money, protecting future generations and saving children’s life,” said Aba Oppong. CEDEP Health Programme Manager, responsible for Gender, Advocacy and Good Governance.

The first phase involves ten selected communities within the municipality with an overall goal to increase immunization target from the current 24% to the 80% mark.

The five year project, which began in December 2014, principally targets mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles and aunties for sensitization to complete the full immunization schedule for new borns.

“They are all expected to support health workers and volunteers to report defaulters to ensure that all newborns receive the full immunization schedule by 18 month,” stated the Programme Manager.

At the end of the project phase in 2018, satellite project sites should be sustainably functional to ease data collection for use by the local assembly.

Community leaders at Asokore Mampong should also be trained to be engaged in routine immunization exercises, including the National Immunization Day.

“The inherent challenge will be when families and friends do not remove misconceptions and stigmatization associated with immunization. In this case, there could be outbreaks of the killer diseases immunization fights against,” observed Aba Oppong.

Under the WHO and UNICEF’s Universal Childhood Immunization campaign, a remarkable 80% of the world’s children are being immunized with the six EPI vaccines — tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles and polio.

A recent report by the BBC says families have been imprisoned in Afghanistan for their failure to allow their babies to be immunized. According to the report, they will be freed only when they allow their babies to be given the polio immunization.

GAVI has the purpose of improving access to new and underused vaccines for children in poor countries.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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