The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has launched the national yellow fever prevention campaign and it expects to vaccinate about 5,364,275 people in the country.
With the exception of Upper West Region, which has already been vaccinated, the seven-day campaign, which begins on November 28 to December 4; and targets people between 10 to 60 years, would be conducted in 65 districts in nine regions free of charge.
Speaking at the launching ceremony in Sunyani on Friday, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director-General of the GHS, said yellow fever has emerged as a serious global health threat and called for concerted efforts to make the campaign successful.
He said it requires active support and engagements of traditional authorities, civil society actors and the municipal and district assemblies to make the campaign attain its desired results.
Under the theme: “Get Vaccinated and Be Protected Against Yellow Fever”, the campaign is being supported by the UNICEF, GAVI and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Dr Nsiah-Asare said 15 per cent of yellow fever cases developed severe complications and appealed to the general public to report symptoms such as fever, jaundice, muscle ache, vomiting and loss of appetite to the nearest health facility for treatment.
He said since 1992 the GHS has implemented several programmes including routine immunization services and mass vaccination campaigns to eliminate communicable diseases and expressed appreciation to the nation’s key partners – WHO, UNICEF, GAVI for spearheading and supporting various vaccination exercises.
Dr George Bonsu, the Programme Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), said GAVI, a global vaccine alliance has approved six million doses of vaccines for the prevention campaign.
He said the GHS with support from its partners is determined to ensure that the nation achieves 100 per cent yellow fever vaccination exercise, indicating that in 2019 the remaining 74 districts would be captured under the campaign.
Mr Martin Oti-Gyarko, the Deputy Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, said the last year three yellow fever cases were detected and managed in the Jaman North District and appealed to traditional rulers to support the campaign by ensuring that majority of the targeted people in their localities were vaccinated.
He called on the media, National Commission for Civic Education and the Information Services Department to help intensify public education for the campaign to achieve the expected success.
Mr Oti-Gyarko urged the GHS and the campaigners to prioritize people with special needs and give them ample notice for the exercise to cover them.
Yellow fever is a viral disease transmitted by a bite from infected mosquitoes mainly Aedes egyptia – a type of mosquito which breeds in the little water collected in axils of leaves (plantain and banana leaves).
WHO report shows that every year about 200,000 cases of yellow fever were recorded and 30,000 of these died worldwide.
Approximately, 47 countries (34 in Africa and 13 in South America) with population of over 500 million people are at risk of catching the disease worldwide.