Ghana launches Sub National Immunization Days (NIDs) against Yellow Fever

The Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and UNICEF has launched a sub national campaign aimed to vaccinate 5.3 million people against yellow fever in nine regions in Ghana. The event took place in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The theme for the campaign is “Get vaccinated and be protected against yellow fever” and it will be conducted from Wednesday, 28th of November, to Tuesday, 4th of December, 2018. The main objective of this campaign is to maintain a high population immunity of all persons living in Ghana.
Speaking at the official launch, Dr George Bonsu, the Programme Manager, Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), said the rationale for the campaign was part of a road map for the elimination of yellow fever in Africa by 2060.  He indicated that Ghana lied within the yellow fever zone, hence the need to rapidly increase population immunity and to protect susceptible older age groups.
Dr Bonsu also mentioned that this campaign is being rolled out in 65 selected districts whiles the remaining 74 districts was planned for 2019. He said vaccination cards will be provided as evidence of having received the vaccine.   He reiterated the safety and effectiveness of the yellow fever  vaccine and noted that the immunisation would take place in health centres and at a number of temporary posts set up in schools, markets, bus stations, churches and all communities in the selected districts.
He urged Ghanaians especially traditional leaders who are custodians of communities to ensure that every eligible person in the communities is vaccinated. 
Dr Owen Kaluwa, WHO Country Representative, whose statement was delivered on his behalf by the WHO Programme Officer for Immunizations, Mr Fred Osei –Sarpong, noted  that yellow fever was not a new disease, but one that continued to affect countries in Africa and the Americas. He indicated that recent urban outbreaks in 2016, 2017 and 2018 demonstrated that despite advances in immunization activities, challenges remained in ending epidemics as the disease was emerging on the global stage as a significant threat to global health security. 
“The West African Ebola outbreak showed that when a pathogen spreads to cities, it can amplify into a major epidemic on a scale never observed before. The public health impact of such outbreaks is huge and so too are the economic losses” he said.
Dr Kaluwa also mentioned that in 2016, a coalition of partners working to stop yellow fever outbreaks met in Geneva to develop a strategy to eliminate yellow fever epidemics (EYE) dubbed the EYE Strategy. According to him, this strategy aimed to protect the populations most at risk, ensure a ready supply of yellow fever vaccine, build resilience in urban centers and prevent international spread. 
“WHO is firmly in the driving seat and collaborating with countries and partners to ensure the successful implementation of the EYE Strategy”, he added. 
In his keynote address, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare said that the effectiveness and safety of the yellow fever vaccine is assertive and therefore encouraged all eligible persons (10-60 years; excluding pregnant women) to get vaccinated.  He also urged Metropolitan, Municipal, District Chief Executives and Traditional Leaders to take up leadership roles during this campaign and ensure its success.
The Campaign was officially launched by the Deputy Regional Minister for the Brong –Ahafo Region, Honourable Martin Oti Gyarko who appealed to health workers to be time conscious to avoid undue delays during the campaign as this was a potential risk to derail the process.

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