By: Akpabli Daniel Yao/VR/Ho
The Ministry of Health through the Ghana Health Service and partners have planned as part of the sub-national exercise, to conduct a monovalent Oral Polio Vaccine Type 2 (mOPV2) mass campaign in all the 18 Municipal and District Assemblies (MDA’s) in the Volta Region.
Over four and a half million children who are less than five (5) years are targeted to be vaccinated in all Municipal and Districts in the Volta, Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Upper West, Western and Western North regions during the vaccination campaign exercise.
Speaking to the media, the Acting Volta Regional Deputy Director Public Health, Dr. Senanu Kwesi Djokoto, noted that, the first crucial engagement on the polio vaccination campaign will take place from the 10th to 13th September, 2020 and the second round of the campaign is expected to be held on the 8th to 11th October, 2020.
He said, the main objective of the campaign is to stop the transmission of the polio virus that has been detected and to prevent any future outbreak in the Volta Region by raising the population immunity against the virus as he noted that, Outbreaks of vaccine derived poliovirus can be stopped with 2 to 3 rounds of supplementary vaccination activities that would boost the immunity levels of the children.
According to him, all children from 0 to 5 years would have to be reached for vaccination during round 1 and again during the round 2
“Let us note that it is a must for every child to take the vaccine whether he or she has received vaccination during routine immunisation. The additional doses are not harmful; it is rather beneficial to the entire population” he stated.
He further charged all to be be part of the advocacy initiative to keep our children safe, sound, strong and free from polio adding that, we can realise this objective only if all children from 0 to 5 years are vaccinated.
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic situation, the directorate assured that, the teams that will go round to vaccinate will adhere strictly to the COVID 19 safety protocols.
He assured the public that, “Each team member will be provided with facemasks and alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean their hands before and after vaccinating each child. The safety is of all is of paramount concern to the Service”
Polio is an infectious disease which may affect the spinal cord causing muscle weakness and paralysis. It causes lameness/weakness in the arm, legs or upper part of the body.
The polio virus is passed from person to person through faeces. It enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. One can also be infected by drinking or eating food contaminated with faeces from an infected person.
Polio affects both children and adults, but children under 5 years of age are most at risk and People who live in areas with poor sanitation are also at high risk of contracting polio.
Low immunisation coverage, poor sanitation and hygiene, especially open defeacation and poor hand washing practices puts us at an even higher risk of contracting polio.
In the year 1996, the wild poliovirus paralysed more than 75,000 children across every country on the continent of Africa.
Ghana demonstrated its commitment to the Africa agenda and as a result recorded its last case of wild polio virus in 2008. Ghana was certified polio-free in 2015, thanks to the oral polio vaccine and the immense support of all stakeholders.
On 25 August 2020, after four years without a single case of wild polio, the African region has been certified free of wild poliovirus. Decades of extraordinary investment has paid off.
POLIO OUTBREAKS IN PARTS OF GHANA
Ghana confirmed two events of Polio Virus type 2 in environmental surveillance samples in Koblimagu in Tamale Metropolis (Northern Region) and in Agbogbloshie in Accra Metropolis (Greater Accra Region) in July and August 2019 respectively.
The first human case of Polio Virus type 2 was also confirmed in August 2019 in a sample from a 2 years 9-month old girl in Chereponi District (North East Region) who developed Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) or floppy lower limbs.
According to reports, the outbreak has been liked to an ongoing outbreak in the West African sub region so there is the need to ensure all eligible children receive all routine vaccinations on time because if a population is fully immunized, they will be protected against all forms of polioviruses
Floppy paralysis cases have been detected in other regions and in Greater Accra, bringing the total number of polio virus type 2 cases since July 2019 to 31.
Currently, 11 out of the 16 regions in the country have confirmed at least a case and or reported an environmental event of type 2 polio outbreak.
Following, a systematic risk assessment of the current polio situation in the country, eight regions namely, Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Volta, Upper West, Western and Western North regions are either affected or stand a very high risk of local transmission.
ORAL POLIO VACCINE (OPV)
Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) is extremely safe and effective at protecting children against lifelong polio paralysis:
More than 10 billion doses have been given to more than 2.5 billion children in the past ten years.
The Public Health feats attained in the eradication of polio has been as a result of the oral polio vaccine.