The routine and rigorous immunization exercises embarked on by Ghana has resulted in the country being classified among nations eliminating neonatal tetanus since 2011.

Ghana has also, since 2003, not documented deaths due to measles whilst the country has been free of polio since 2008.

All these achievements have contributed to the reduction of under-five mortality from 111 in 2003 to 80 per cent live births in 2008.

Dr Kwadwo Antwi-Agyei, Programme Manager of Expanded Programme on Immunization of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said this at the launch of this year’s joint African Vaccination and Child Health Promotion Week celebrations.

The week, which begins from April 22 to May 11, 2013, would be on the theme; “Healthy Children, Great Future” with the slogan “Vaccinate, Prevent Disability, Save lives”.

Dr Antwi-Agyei said Ghana was poised for action and that had challenged the country to make history by being the first in the world to introduce two new vaccines – Pneumococcal and Rotavirus – concurrently  into routine immunization in April 2012 and again introduced the second dose for measles vaccination at 18 months of age.

“The introduction of these vaccines does not mean we are giving out too many vaccines which will put the children at risk as some perceived, they are rather protecting these children against diseases and save their lives,” he said.

He said there were over 200 diseases but only 11 were being vaccinated against, adding; “We have a system of monitoring safety all the time in all parts of the country”.

Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, National Coordinator of Child Health Programmes of the GHS, giving the health status of the Ghanaian child, said two out of 100 newborns died before their first month, five out of 100 children died before their first birthday whilst eight out of 100 died before their fifth birthday.

She said most deaths were preventable and called on mothers to always visit the hospital during pregnancy and after delivery for their babies to receive medical and supervised attention and care.

Dr Idrissa Sow of the World Health Organisation (WHO), commended Ghana for integrating nutrition, immunization and child survival interventions as recommended by WHO.

In a speech read on his behalf, Dr Sow said: “There are additional areas such as food hygiene issues that can be incorporated into the messages on nutrition”.

Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Health, commended the GHS for the tremendous efforts in achieving these successes and pledged government’s support and commitment in insuring that the country meets the Millennium Development Goal 4 which calls for a reduction in child mortality by two thirds of the estimated 12.4 million deaths by 2015.

She called on regional and district coordinating councils, traditional and religious leaders and communities to participate actively in all the activities to promote the health and well-being of the children.

The celebrations aim at strengthening immunization programmes in the African Region by drawing attention to the importance and the need to immunize children.

It would also increase stakeholder’s awareness, promote and maintain immunization as a priority, increase demand for utilization of immunization services and promote the integration of other child survival interventions.

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