The Africa vaccination week has been launched in Kumasi in Ashanti Region to commemorate the preservation of the health of children through vaccination.
The launched took place at the Lancaster Hotel, Kumasi on Thursday, 20th April 2023.
Joined by Hon. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, Minister for Health, Dr. Patrick Kuma Aboagye, Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Francis Kasolo, World Health Organization (WHO) Representatives to Ghana, Representatives of Partner Organizations, Queen Mothers and Health Workers on the theme: “The Big Catch-Up.”
Dr. Francis Kasolo, World Health Organization (WHO) Representatives to Ghana at the launched commended Ghana for the efforts made over the years in the quest to achieve universal Health Coverage (UHC) and also the global agenda towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.
He praised Ghana’s health financing approach with the institution of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), as a commendable innovative health financing mechanism that is worthy of emulation by other African countries.
Dr. Kasolo explained that, the event is the beginning of a year-long push of the “The Big Catch-Up”, to reverse the backsliding of routine immunization.
According to him, African Vaccination Week is a week-long event that seeks to raise awareness about the importance of immunization in protecting against deadly diseases.
“This year’s theme, ‘The Big Catch-Up’, is timely, given the challenges we have faced, particularly, over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said”.
Dr. Francis Kasolo added that, the pandemic has had a significant impact on routine immunization services, with many children missing out on vital vaccinations.
This according to him has resulted in a rise in preventable diseases, such as measles and yellow fever, which had previously been on the decline. “The Big Catch-Up is an opportunity for us to redouble our efforts to ensure that every child has access to life-saving vaccines”.
He added that, though, vaccination is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions available, and it is estimated that immunization prevents 2-3 million deaths each year but vaccines not only protect the individual who receives them but also create herd immunity, which helps to protect the entire community, including those who are unable to be vaccinated.
He then urged Ghanaian as we celebrate the 2023 African Vaccination Week, to work together and ensure that no child is left behind.
This means investing in strong immunization systems, increasing vaccine coverage, and ensuring that vaccines are accessible to all.
He also entreated every health worker to address vaccine hesitancy, which has become a growing concern in recent years, especially in our COVID-19 vaccine deployment.
Dr. Kasolo stressed that, misinformation and mistrust have led some people to refuse vaccination, putting them at risk of diseases.
“We must work to address these concerns, provide accurate information, and build trust in vaccines and the health systems that deliver them”.
Ghana have made great strides in improving and sustaining vaccination coverage over the years, and through the support of WHO and other partners, efforts have been made to enable children in some of the remotest parts of the country access life-saving vaccines, he added.
He emphasized that, WHO and it’s sister, UN agencies in Ghana, will continue to support the Government of Ghana in achieving universal health coverage.
The exercise will begin on the 24th – 30th April, 2023.
Nana Yaw Owusu/Ashanti Region.