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General News of Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Source: GNA

Veep launches National Mass measles vaccination campaign

Accra, Oct. 27, GNA - Vice President John Dramani Mahama on Wednesday launched the 2010 National Mass Measles Vaccination campaign in Accra, as part of efforts to help free all children in the country from the scourge of the disease.

The nationwide exercise, which is scheduled for November 3- November 6, is aimed at reaching about 4.5 million children between nine months and five years, which is 17 per cent of the population. The children would also have doses of supplements of Vitamin "A", to boost their immune system for better protection against other diseases.

Vice President Mahama appealed to parents, especially mothers, community and opinion leaders, to send their children to designated centres for vaccination. He noted that in the past measles, apart from malaria, was the number one killer of children.

However, with effective immunisation programmes the scenario has changed for the better as Ghana has not recorded a single case of death as a result of measles in the past eight years. Vice President Mahama said available statistics showed that the number of children who suffered from measles had reduced drastically. He stressed the importance that the Government attached to national mass immunisation programmes, saying though Ghana had made significant progress towards improving the health of children, there is still more to be done, as there still exist pockets of measles outbreaks among children below five years.

The Vice President indicated that to keep the disease under total control, more than 90 per cent of children must be vaccinated through normal regular immunisations as well as during further booster mass immunisation campaign programmes to prevent any outbreaks.

"This will help maintain the gains in reduced measles morbidity and mortality achieved in the country over the years," he said.

He acknowledged the diverse contributions of all health development partners, traditional and religious leaders, mothers and caregivers as well as the mass media and asked them for further assistance and collaboration to ensure the total eradication of measles.

Dr Nana Kwodwo Odei Antwi-Agyei, Programme Manager, National Immunisation Programme of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said all is set to commence the nationwide exercise with about 8,000 trained vaccinators.

He said vaccination would be given at fixed and temporary sites, depending on the settlement of the population, public and private health facilities, schools, churches, mosques and in other institutions as additional posts.

Mobile fixed teams, which would stay in areas for as long as it would be required to complete the task, would also be utilised to ease access to hard-to-reach areas, he said.

Dr Antwi-Agyei explained that the effect of measles on children presented very devastating complications, including brain problems, blindness, deafness, diarrhoea, sore throat leading to malnutrition and pneumonia.

However, it costs less than GH¢2.00 together with Vitamin "A" supplement, to save a child's life from the dreadful effect of the disease and even death.

He said the GHS is committed to its programme of ensuring high routine immunisation coverage by providing the first dose to all children less than one year and a second dose to all children up to five years through routine mass immunisation campaigns or Supplementary Immunisation Activities, which spans a four-year period.

Dr Antwi-Agyei said the GHS would also establish measles case-based surveillance and laboratory confirmation to help improve upon case management and maintain the gains that Ghana had made over the past eight years. It would also enhance efforts towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal on health. 27 Oct. 10

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