GHS chief demands heightened hygiene as polio vaccination starts

The Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has urged the public to continue hand hygiene practice and maintain a clean environment to ensure the country regains its polio-free status.

He was at the Jumapo Health Centre facility in the New Juaben North Municipality in the Eastern Region to monitor the ongoing polio vaccination.

The Service is undertaking the Oral polio immunization exercise in eight regions of the country.

Late last year, in August to be precise, a polio case broke out in the Northern Region.

Fast forward, 30 cases have been recorded across the country, affecting the 2008 polio-free declaration status gains made.

The outbreak has been attributed to poor sanitation and gap in vaccination exercise coverage for children Under-five across the country.

Children Under-5 in the Northern Region and affected regions were vaccinated last year and early part of this year before the onset of Covid-19.

The oral polio vaccination would raise the immunity of children against the non-wild polio virus.

Some 4.5 million children Under-five are being targeted with the Oral Polio Vaccine Two in the vaccination exercise ongoing in the eight regions of the country.

New Juaben North Municipality is targeting 15,000 children under five children to vaccinate.

“We have begun the exercise already, we have a wide catchment to reach,” Dr Kuma-Aboagye said.

“We began early and are targeting about 15,000 children under five. The only challenge is the ice packs that keep melting. We have to keep going to change and replacing.”

The Director General of the Service, who monitored the exercise at Jumapo with other health directors, pointed out that improved sanitation, improved access to latrine and hand hygiene practice were  critical to ensuring a polio free country.

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“Personal hygiene, access to latrine, handwashing are critical to polio. We urge those building markets and other facilities to ensure latrine systems are improved.”

He was confident of a paralysis free country after the vaccination exercise.

“We do not want any child to paralyse, reasons we are doing the vacination in a very fast manner to bring to a halt the any possible outbreak. Regions that had initial cases have had their children under five been vaccinated for. We should be able to have a paralysis free county once the exercise has taken off.”

He also urged caregivers to send children Under-five to nearby facilities for the vaccination exercise or grant access to health persons designated to homes for the exercise.

“We urge all care givers to cooperate. They should bring the children for vaccination. Those at homes should also grant them access and not fear of Covid-19 infection.”

By Yvonne Neequaye||Ghana