General News of Thursday, 19 February 2004
Tema, Feb. 19, GNA- Professor Agyeman Badu-Akosah, Director-General of the National Health Services (NHS) on Thursday warned that anyone who puts impediment on the way of the national polio immunisation exercise would be punished.
He said the children's Act of 560 allows the punishment of individuals or group of persons who obstruct health personnel or volunteers from immunising children below five years against the infection of poliomyelitis.
Speaking at the launching of the national Polio Immunisation Days at Tema, he said Ghana is determined to eradicate polio and this calls for the concerted efforts of all Ghanaians so that anyone whose aim is to prevent children from receiving the vaccines should put that aside. Alhaji Aliu Mahama, Vice President, performed the launching which had "Kick polio out of Ghana" as the theme and was attended by chiefs, school children, health personnel and heads of departments of various organisations.
He said a lot of money is being spent on the programme and so anyone or group of persons who place obstacles in their way would not have it easy "we have targeted 2004 the year for eradication of poliomyelitis from Ghana".
He assured the public about the potency of the polio vaccines and advised teachers, traditional leaders, opinion leaders to lead the crusade on the importance of the exercise to encourage parents to send their children for immunisation.
Prof Badu-Akosah said the GHS in conjunction with other partners would launch a crusade on sanitation which would involve every Ghanaian in the exercise.
Dr Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Health, indicated that 5.1 million children under five years are being targeted to receive the vaccines nation wide and urged the public to cooperate with the 46,000 volunteers and 4,000 supervisors who would be carrying out the exercise. He asked the supervisors to ensure that all eligible children within their catchment areas are immunised and not hesitate to report people who would obstruct them to carrying out the exercise.
The Minister repeated the potency of the vaccines and said it is not contaminated with HIV nor anti-fertility drugs as rumoured by some people because the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Noguchi Memorial Institute have tested it.
He said Ghana had made considerable progress since the inception of the polio eradication initiative in 1996, however, after two years we have suffered a temporary set back, thus from February to September 2003 where eight cases were identified in eight districts in six regions.
This is an indication that the immunisation exercise is not reaching all children stressing that we all have a shared responsibility in redoubling our efforts towards the eradication of the disease. In this direction, individuals, community leaders, and elders of the society have to recognise and play their respective roles. He commended the UNICEF and WHO for releasing funds towards the exercises.
Shiekh I. C. Quaye, Greater Accra Regional Minister said we owe an obligation to protect children from harm and disease so there is no reason for them to become paralysed because of polio and called for a concerted effort to ensure that all children receive the vaccine.