Dr Senanu Kwesi Dzokoto, Deputy Volta Regional Director of Health, in charge of Public Health, has said that a total of 381,536 children in the Region would be dosed against polio between September 10 and 13, 2020.
He said the exercise was the first round of the third phase of polio immunisation campaign, and would be conducted in eight regions- Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Volta, Upper West, Western and Western North, following a systematic risk assessment of the current polio situation in the country.
He said the main objective of the campaign was to stop the transmission of the polio virus that had been detected and to prevent any future outbreak of the virus in the country, adding that “we can do so by raising the population immunity against the virus.”
Dr Dzokoto who was speaking at a press briefing in Ho, said round two of the immunisation campaign would take place between 8 and 11 October, 2020, and over four and a half million children who were less than five years were targeted to be vaccinated in all the eight regions.
The Director said the exercise had become necessary as “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.”
He said the first human case of Polio Virus type 2 was also confirmed in August 2019, in a sample from a two-year nine-month old girl in Chereponi District of the North East Region, and the victim had developed Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) or floppy lower limbs.
“Unfortunately, additional 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,” he stated.
Dr Dzokoto said if a population was fully immunized, they would be protected against all forms of polioviruses, thus the need to ensure that children under five years received all routine vaccinations on time and urged parents to make their children available for the exercise.
“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,” he added.
The Director said the rebirth of vaccine derived poliovirus could be stopped with two to three rounds of supplementary vaccination activities that would boost the immunity levels of the children.
He said low immunisation coverage, poor sanitation and hygiene, especially open defecation and poor hand washing practices put a person at a higher risk of contracting the virus, adding that “as long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio.”
“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.
The fact that we are gathered here today to discuss polio shows that the job is not finished. These collaborative efforts must continue to prevent wild polio from returning and to end all forms of polio for good in Ghana, Africa and the World.
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 said.
Mr Anthony Pani, the Regional Disease Control Officer, said people had been trained to undertake house-to-house sensitisation campaigns from September 7, 2020 ahead of the main exercise.
Mr Victor Attah Ntumi, Chairman, Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health, said the media was a key stakeholder in the campaign and implored them to educate the public on the importance of the exercise.