The Ministry of Health (MOH) is introducing the MenAfricVac-1 vaccine into the country’s immunization programme to help combat the outbreak of meningitis.

Deputy Director of Public Health at the Volta Regional Health Directorate, Dr. Yaw Ofori Yeboah said the MenAfricVac-1 would be the 13th vaccine to be made available to children throughout the country to protect them against a specific subgroup of meningitis – the Sero-group A.

Dr Ofori Yeboah at a press briefing in Ho on the introduction of the vaccine into the routine immunisation nationwide, said the Sero-group A was a major cause of meningitis, which had killed over a 1,000 people in Ghana.

He said the vaccine was safe and had been tested in the three northern regions of the country, and gave the assurance that systems were in place within the Health Service to manage issues during the immunization.

He expressed concerns about increasing number of women, especially the rural folk, delivering outside health facilities, and called for intensified education for all expectant mothers to deliver at health facilities and have their children immunised.

Co-ordinator of Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), Godwin Afegle said starting from November 1, this year, infants would receive a single dose EPI immunisation intra-muscularly on the upper right arm.

In 2012, Ghana was among the first meningitis belt countries in Africa to introduce MenAfricVac with a mass vaccination campaign targeting 3 million people in the three high-risk northern regions with very positive results.

This has led to the introduction of the vaccine in accordance with a World Health Organisation (WHO) directive to be included in the routine childhood immunisation programme within one to five years.

The vaccine was developed in 2001 in a collaboration between WHO and the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.