Doctor Injecting A Young ChildDoctor injecting a young child with a vaccination or antibiotic in a small disposable hypodermic syringe, close up of the kids arm and needle.

The Ministry of Health has been unable to capture all children for Measles-Rubella (MR) and other vaccines in the last six years, leading to fears of an imminent measles outbreak among children. Over the period, more than 500,000 children in the country may not have received the measles-rubella-1 vaccination.

Although Measles-Rubella vaccine coverage is relatively high in the country, every year, there are pockets of children left out, especially in hard-to-reach communities and Peri-urban and urbanized areas. In 2023, 88.4 percent of children in Ghana received the first dose of the measles and rubella (MR) vaccine with 82.1 percent of the children given the second dose.

The cohort of children missed and unvaccinated are more than 500,000 for the measles-rubella-1 over the past 5rys cumulatively. With a larger number yet to receive the 2nd dose. These children have become vulnerable cohorts for an outbreak hence the periodic MR vaccination campaigns to help mop up those left behind and those with low measles immunity levels.

However, it has been six years since the last MR vaccination campaign was conducted. This means a bigger cohort remains unvaccinated, hence the current spate of focal outbreaks. In March last year, there was an outbreak of measles in the Northern Region with a total of 209 suspected cases reported in 11 districts. Last month, some districts in the Western Region also recorded some cases of measles.

The Western Regional Surveillance Officer. Public Health Services, Dennis Jubin, said the situation is under control.

“As we speak now, we have been able to contain all the cases and whatever we are supposed to do for the people to remain healthy we have done that. Early treatment also forms part of preventing the disease so if you suspect the disease, you report to the health facility, we identify you and we offer treatment,” he said. Stakeholders are concerned the situation could deteriorate if urgent steps are not taken to reach all children. Health authorities are not oblivious to the impending crisis for child health.

The Program Manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunization, Dr. Kwame Amponsa-Achiano explained that: “In-fact there’s no vaccine for which we have had 100% coverage. If you have 1000 people, you are approximately getting about 950. And therefore, you leave 50 out. And for us our birth cohort is quite huge. It’s about 1.1, 1.2 million so if you leave this 5% out, over time they accumulate these are unvaccinated children and that is a recipe for outbreaks.

This is not the first time, and it is not going to be the last time. The only important thing is that we plan ahead to mitigate that. But as you ask, we have the routine vaccines. But I tell you the children who are getting the measles are not those due now. They are those we missed,” Dr Amponsa- Achiano explained.

He further said plans are ongoing for an immediate measles outbreak response vaccination in selected areas to be followed by a nationwide measles vaccination for all eligible children by the close of the year. “The last time we did in Ghana was 2018 and it was about time we did another one. In fact we have been in the planning process to get another mass vaccination exercise, especially for measles this year but unfortunately is likely to get to somewhere close to the year or maybe early part of last year. But we know and we recognize the fact that overtime, we turn to get outbreaks,” he emphasized.

It’s Child Health Promotion Week & African Vaccination Week, mothers are encouraged to get their babies vaccinated.

By Sarah Apenkroh

 

Benjamin Mensah

By Benjamin Mensah

Benjamin Mensah [Freshhope] is a young man, very passionate about the youth of this Generation. Very friendly, reliable and very passionate about the things of God and all that I do. The mission is to inform, educate and entertain. Feel free to send your whatsapp messages to +233266550849 and call on +233242645676

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