First Lady Ernestina Naadu Mills on Thursday announced that vaccines against pneumonia would be available, with immediate effect, at all hospitals and health facilities.
She said children would be given three doses pf the vaccine at six, 10 and 14; rotavirus vaccine against childhood diarrhoea would also be administered to children aged six and 10 weeks.
The First Lady made the announcement when she launched in Accra, two vaccines against childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea.
The launch, which also commemorates the second African Vaccination Week, makes Ghana the first African country to introduce pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines at the same time, simultaneously tackling the leading cause of the world’s two biggest childhood diseases.
Globally, pneumonia and severe infant diarrhoea together take the lives of more than 2.7 million children under the age of five each year, and it is on record that about 22 per cent of deaths among children below five years of age are as a result of pneumonia.
Also, rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea worldwide killing more than half a million children each year and leading to the hospitalisation of many more.
“The suffering caused by pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases among children is about to be significantly reduced with the introduction of the new vaccines,” Dr Naadu Mills, said.
The announcement attracted an appreciative applause as the First Lady launched the vaccines in the presence of Health Minister Alban Bagbin; Dr Seth Berkley, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation; WHO Deputy Director General Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah; UNICEF Country Representative Dr Iyabode Olunsami and other international guests at the Independence Square in Accra.
Currently, vaccines that are routinely delivered to infants and children in Ghana include those against polio, tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, tetanus, pertusis, yellow fever hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza type B infections.
“Today is a great day for Ghanaians as we have an opportunity to improve the lot of our children who are our future and the greatest resource for our developmental agenda,” Dr Naadu Mills said.
More than 400,000 Ghanaian children would be immunised against pneumococcal disease, thanks to 1.5 million British pounds contributions by JP Morgan, which was matched by the UK through the GCAVI Matching Fund for a total contribution of three million pounds. GNA