Ghana launches a nationwide campaign to fight Measles-Rubella

By
Samira Larbie/Josephine Acheampong, GNA

Accra, Oct. 11, GNA – The Ghana Health Service
(GHS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health on Thursday launched a
six-day national Measles-Rubella vaccination and Vitamin A supplement campaign
to improve the general health and survival of Ghanaian children.

The campaign, aimed at ensuring healthy lives
and promoting well-being for all ages to help reduce the number of
measles-rubella cases in the country.

The campaign, expected to start from October
17 to 22, 2018 is targeting at immunising over four million children from nine
months to under five years in all the 216 districts.

It will be on the theme; “Measles-Rubella
Kills; Vaccinate Your Child Now for Good Life”.

Dr George Bonsu, the Programme Manager,
Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), said data indicated that measles
kills almost 90,000 people globally each year and it was a leading cause of
death in Children under five years.

He said measles had been the major killer
before the 1980’s and ranked second to malaria in Ghana, adding that, reports
had also revealed that 100,000 children are born with Congenital Rubella
Syndrome (CRS) globally.

Dr Bonsu noted that in 2017; 19 cases of
Measles and Rubella were recorded but as at January to August 2018, 29 cases
have been recorded hence the need to intensify campaign on the disease. 

He urged Ghanaians especially parents to
ensure that they take their eligible children for the immunization to help
prevent and eliminate measles and rubella.

Dr Gloria Quansah-Asare, the Deputy
Director-General, GHS, said the campaign was geared towards achieving the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2020.

She said the introduction of immunisation
against killer diseases, like measles had improved the health of children
significantly.

Dr Quansah-Asare said the country had made
significant gains in controlling measles for the past 15 years saying “no child
has died from measles in the country”.

She said that notwithstanding, measles and
rubella are endemic, hence, the need for the campaign as the disease could kill
and maim children.

She said the measles and rubella vaccines are
safe for children and noted that the immunisation would take place in health
centres and at a number of temporary posts set up in schools, markets, bus
stations, churches and all communities in the country.

She however, advised that children remained at
the place of vaccination for at least 15 minutes after administration of the
vaccine.

Mr Fiachra McAssey, UNICEF Deputy Country
Representative, commended the Government for the successes chalked in the fight
against measles-rubella.

He said under five mortality had declined from
155 deaths per every 1000 live births in 1988 to 52 deaths per 1000 live births
in 2017, adding, “this remarkable achievement would not be possible without
effective immunisation programme”.

He pledged UNICEF’s support towards
government’s effort to bridge the equity gap for immunisation and other child
health interventions through data driven equity analysis to generate the needed
evidence for the targeted mediation for underserved groups and communities.

Dr Owen Kaluwa, WHO Country Representative,
noted that the number of children vaccinated through routine immunisation had
increased over the years in the Africa Region and Ghana was one of only five
countries in Africa that had achieved the 95 per cent target coverage rate for
the first dose measles-rubella vaccination.

He said the 2018 measles-rubella vaccination
campaign illustrates Ghana’s commitment to eliminating measles by 2020 in line
with the Global Vaccination Action Plan.

“This will only move us a step closer to
achieving elimination but also accelerate the control of CRS and subsequently
reducing child mortality,” he said.

Mr Kwaku Agyemang Menu, the Minister of
Health, in a speech read on his behalf said it was important that measles
elimination was only possible if population immunity was kept at more than 95
per cent over a long periods through routine immunisation and supplementary
activities.

He said immunisation of children against
diseases was something that ought to receive the enthusiastic support of
everyone in communities.

He expressed gratitude to all development
partners who supported Ghana financially, logistically and technically towards
the campaign adding that children are the most precious resources hence, the
need to do all that was possible to prevent them from disabilities or deaths
due to measles-rubella.

GNA

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