The Ministry of Health has warned that national efforts at reducing vaccine-preventable diseases and death among children could suffer a major setback if parents and caregivers do not avail their children to full immunisation programmes.
The ministry is worried that although a large number of parents start vaccination programmes for their children not long after birth, many drop out at nine months and do not continue through to the last two immunisations at 18 months.
This, according to the ministry, creates a dangerous situation where many of these children become vulnerable to diseases that could have been easily prevented.
Speaking at the launch of the Social Mobilisation and Demand Generation Campaign as part of the Ghana Second Year of Life (2YL) Project, Deputy Minister of Health, Tina Mensah urged parents to “ensure that they go the full circle by embracing all the effective health interventions freely available to all children in Ghana from birth through to age five”.
Statistics provided by the Ministry of Health, for example, indicate that although nine out 10 children receive the first dose of measles-rubella vaccine, only six out 10 children receive the second dose, thus making them vulnerable to diseases.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that can cause fever, rash, blindness, brain damage and a host of other illnesses, but can be prevented with two doses of measles-rubella vaccine, which is part of routine immunisation in Ghana.
The project, however, aims to ensure that children in Ghana are fully protected against all vaccine-preventable diseases.
The Second Year of Life, thus, offers another opportunity to children who could not be vaccinated for some reason during their first year of life.
Deputy Director General of Ghana Health Service, Dr Gloria Quansah-Asare stated that although progress has been made in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases, a lot more grounds need to be covered to consolidate the gains.
She dispelled a popular notion among the general public in Ghana that childhood immunisation is a health intervention only for children under one year.
“The popular notion among the general public in Ghana that childhood immunisation is a health intervention only for children under one-year-old is out-dated”.
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