The Confederation of Western Region Masqueraders have lauded the Ghana Health Service (GHS) for the innovative strategy it has adopted to vaccinate its members and the public ahead of the masquerade festivities in December.
The Western Regional Directorate of Ghana Health Services (GHS)with support from the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) and the John Snow Incorporative (JSI) has rolled out a mass vaccination initiative to vaccinate members of the masquerade groups in the Western region, especially in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis.
This, it said was to ensure that participants, as well as fans of the masquerade groups, were vaccinated to forestall an upsurge in COVID-19 cases after the festivals.
The masquerade festivals have not been active since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, but the Confederation is hoping for a massive celebration this year.
This year, the Confederation is expecting over 12,000 masqueraders to participate in the festival scheduled for December as part of the Christmas festivities.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the first day of the exercise, Mr. McDonald Som, Public Relations Officer of the Confederation described the move as timely, strategic, and something that could boost and encourage participation in this year’s festivities.
He said the masquerade festivities brought people together which per COVID-19 restrictions and protocols could not be celebrated without mass vaccination.
“COVID-19 was a big blow to us. We have not really had a feel of the festival since 2019. So, this year, we are hoping for a big festival”, he said
“The vaccination is good for us. It is very significant and we are happy the GHS is doing this at this time. We hope that more people not just our members will take advantage of it to get vaccinated”, he added.
Mr. Som described the masquerade festivities as a tool that the Region could leverage on to promote tourism and development.
Deputy Regional Director in Charge of Public Health, Dr. Gifty Amugi told the GNA that the exercise would continue till the end of the year with the possibility of an extension.
She said the vaccination in the Region was low and urged all to take advantage to get vaccinated.
She said the vaccine did not have severe consequences except the normal side effects such as headache, feverishness among others and only 84,828 people, representing 5.8 percent of the Region’s population were vaccinated whereas a little over 14 percent took the first dose in the Region.
She was confident the initiatives in place would help the Region achieve its 50 percent target of people who had at least taken the first dose.
Mr. Emmanuel Nuworzah, Senior Programmes Specialists with the John Snow Incorporative described the move by the GHS as an innovative strategy which he believed would go a long way to raise the level of vaccination uptake in the region.
He said the JSI would continue to support innovative programmes aimed at increasing the demand for COVID-19 vaccinations, noting that the disease had disrupted the social cohesion and culture of societies and communities.
“The more people are vaccinated, the more immunity is achieved”, he added.