Category: Health & Lifestyle Created on Friday, 27 April 2012 10:16 Published Date Written by GNA Hits: 383
Accra, April 26, GNA - Ghana on Thursday launched two vaccines to protect children from pneumonia and diarrhoea diseases.
The vaccines being introduced simultaneously have placed Ghana at a historical advantage as the first African country to introduce the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines.
They would help Ghana to tackle the leading cause of the world’s biggest childhood killers, pneumonia and diarrhoea.
The pneumococcal vaccine would protect children from pneumona, ear infections and meningitis while the rotavirus vaccine would protect children against diarrhoea caused by rotavirus.
Dr Mrs Ernestina Naadu Mills, First Lady, who launched the vaccines with the administration of the first rotavirus doses to some babies, said the move was an opportunity to improve the health of Ghanaian children.
The Minister of Health, Alban S.K.Bagbin, said the new vaccines being introduced into Ghana’s immunisation programme emphasised the country’s commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4) as well as fighting two major under five killers.
He said that immunisation was no doubt one of the most effective public health interventions and the cornerstone of public health care, saving three million lives per year worldwide.
Mr Bagbin noted that Ghana was closer to achieving target for the MDG 4 with the reduction of mortality of children under five years from 111 per 1,000 live births in 2003 to 80 per 1,000 live births in 2008.
He said organisms causing vaccine-preventable diseases still circulated in Ghana, West Africa and around the world therefore, continued vaccination was necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks.
Mr Bagbin stressed that since immunisation was free and a shared responsibility, families, healthcare professionals and public health officials must work together to help protect the community.
The vaccines would be available in all hospitals and health centres in the country and doses would be given in three stages, at six, 10, and 14 weeks old among children under five years.
The programme would be Launched in all regional capitals to inform the public on the new vaccines and the need to patronise them.
Dr Anarfi Asamoah-Baah, Deputy Director-General, WHO, said Ghana’s historic roll-out marked a new milestone in a global initiative to reach children in developing countries with such vaccines to reduce preventable childhood deaths.
He said pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, which had been well tested, were expected to reach more than 40 countries globally by 2015.
Dr Asamoah-Baah called on stakeholders to support the cause, to help sustain the efforts and investments made so far to save the lives of children in the country.
Mr Seth Berkley, Chief Executive Officer, GAVI, main donors of the vaccines, said “With hardwork and efforts that has gone into this double launch, Ghana has established herself as a pioneer in the fight against pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases”.
The GAVI Alliance is a Geneva-based public private partnership aimed at improving health in the world’s poorest countries.
He said other donors including UK, Italy and USA, contributed to the vaccines with the Government co-financing.
Mr Berkley explained that more than 400,000 Ghanaian children were expected to be immunised against the two killer diseases.
“Thanks to a £1.5 million contribution by JP Morgan, which was matched by the UK through GAVI Matching Fund for a total contribution of £3 million.”
Dr Iyabode Olusanmi, UNICEF Country Representative, said: “The potential lifesaving impact of pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, is enormous. However at the heart of any successful intervention is positive behaviour change within communities.”
Globally, GAVI Alliance’s support for pneumococcal vaccines could prevent more than seven million deaths by 2030, while their support for the rotavirus vaccines could save another 2.4 million child death.
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