A yellow fever vaccination campaign has taken off in 28 districts in nine regions of the country where suspected cases of the disease have been recorded.
The five-day campaign, which started on February 26 and ends on March 02, will have persons aged nine months to 60 years (with the exception of pregnant women) injected with the yellow fever vaccine to protect them from the disease.
The regions include Savannah, Ashanti, Greater Accra, Oti, Northern, Upper West, Bono, and Bono East.
This is the second phase of the vaccination campaign after the first phase was held in December 2021, targeting about four regions, including Savannah, where the first case was recorded.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is leading the campaign with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) among other partners.
After the first phase of the vaccination campaign, it was realised that pockets of the disease still existed and some new communities also started recording cases, hence the second phase.
Dr Michael Biredu, the Deputy Savannah Regional Director of Health in-charge of Public Health, at a meeting with officials of UNICEF in Damongo, said the necessary logistics had been deployed for the smooth roll out of the programme.
Yellow fever is a virus transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, an infection that can cause serious illness and death.
Symptoms include fever, yellowing of the eyes, dark urine, bleeding (from the nose, ear, mouth and other parts of the body), chills, general body aches, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and weakness, shock and failure of many organs.
In October 2021 the Savannah Region reported suspected cases of yellow fever, and the cases were confirmed positive by the National Public Health Reference Laboratory and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.
Samples sent to Institut Pasteur Dakar (IPD) were also confirmed positive for yellow fever.
The outbreak is now widespread, with 13 out of 16 regions of the country including Savannah, Upper West, Bono and Bono East confirming cases and over 40 people dying from the disease.
As of February 22, 2021, the total suspected cases of the disease stood at 852, confirmed cases by immunoglobulin stood at 137, and confirmed cases by PCR from IPD (Dakar) stood at 70.
UNICEF, a partner in the vaccination campaign, has deployed four teams to the Savannah, Upper West, Bono and Bono East regions to monitor the exercise.
The UNICEF is working with the Ghana Health Service’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and providing technical assistance and financial support to build the capacity of health staff, provide the needed vaccines and logistics and supporting the EPI in community mobilisation and sensitisation efforts.
Additionally it is providing technical assistance during the vaccination campaign and working with the GHS to strengthen cold chain systems in diverse ways including the supply of ultra-low temperature fridges to the GHS.
Mr Bhanu Pathak, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF, Tamale, who led a team to monitor the vaccination campaign in the Savannah Region, emphasised the need for the commitment to ensuring that all communities and populations were covered to protect the citizenry.