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Redouble efforts to combat vaccine preventable diseases - Health Minister

Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, the Minister of Health has urged West African countries to redouble efforts towards the prevention, control, elimination and eradication of vaccine preventable diseases in the sub-region.

He also urged the countries to develop more innovative ways of addressing vaccine preventable diseases taking into consideration the limited resources of member countries.

He explained that vaccine preventable diseases were not just health issues but developmental.

He expressed optimism that the eradication of vaccine preventable diseases would only be achieve through an effective surveillance systems and a robust Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) of countries.

Mr Agyemang-Manu stated in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the annual EPI managers meeting for West African countries, underway in Accra, he however expressed satisfaction that the region was almost at the end of the struggle to eradicate polio.

He said in particularly, “the progress made in polio elimination in Ghana had been successful due to the inputs and concerted efforts of many stakeholders, including donor partners and through the work of the media”.

The three-day meeting was to enable participating countries to review the status of the implementation of recommendation of the 2016 EPI Managers meeting as well as the recommendations of various regional immunization advisory groups and to learn from challenges of the programmes.

Mr Agyemang-Manu also encouraged countries to consider domestic resources mobilization to facilitate the sustainability of laudable interventions to eradicate vaccine preventable diseases.

He noted: “The EPI in the West Africa region has made tremendous progress in protecting children from common childhood communicable diseases namely; tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, neonatal tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza, yellow fever, among others”.

He said in the quest to effectively, control polio vaccine preventable diseases in Ghana a number of interventions such as routine immunization, child health promotion week, and integrated maternal health campaigns were undertaken.

Other national interventions were static service, outreach services, mob-up campaigns, visit to island and lake communities which was term as hard-to-reach areas, were all also used.

The Health Minister indicated that the; “reaching every district and every child approach,” monitoring for action, supportive supervision and support to district as well as addressing system-wide barriers to immunization, were also adopted.

He gave the assurance that the Government of Ghana remained committed to the eradication efforts and that, it would continue to make funds available to the programme in the country.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director of Ghana Health Service (GHS) said Ghana’s commitment towards the EPI programme had enable the country to eliminate most of the childhood diseases among children.

He said the GHS was determined to work with all partners to ensure that Ghana attain 100 per cent coverage of immunization, adding that more vigorous activities would be rolled out in the coming months to reach out to all children everywhere in the country to immunize them against childhood killer diseases.

He also thanked government for leading the country to purchase all the needed vaccines for the rest of the year and for next year as well.

Mr Nsiah-Asare urged the media to continue it partnership in the EPI programme.

Dr Felicitas Zawaira, the Director of Family and Reproductive Health Cluster at the World Health Organization, said the main challenge of the implementation of the EPI programmes was how to get access to quality data to ensure the desired results.

She said the adoption of the EPI by African Heads of States was a sure way to help the world to rid-off of vaccinated related diseases.

She commended the six African Countries including Ghana for having attained 90 per cent of set immunization targets.

Source: GNA