Two hundred and twenty thousand children were not immunized last year against the six killer diseases – polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, pertussis (whooping cough), measles and tetanus, according to Dr. Joan Awanyo-Akaba, the Civil Society rep on the board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). The alarming figures, which were mostly recorded from the hardest-to-reach communities -were not as a result of lack of vaccines, but as a result of poor road networks leading to such places, rendering them completely inaccessible.
“Two hundred and twenty thousand Ghanaian children were not reached last year -and if we don’t do anything 220,000 or even more may not be reached this year and next year and the subsequent years,” warned Dr. Awanyo-Akaba. She was speaking at a press conference in Accra Monday themed -Civil Society Call to Action -The Urgent Need for Investing in Immunization to Save Lives -by the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health (GCNH). According to UNICEF/WHO’s 2011 report, 83 percent of the world’s under one year of age had received these life-saving vaccinations.
However, one-fifth of the world’s children -about 22.4 million infants -are not immunized against these killer diseases even though more than 100 million infants are immunized each year -saving 2-3million lives annually. Also the prevalence polio cases has declined drastically since 1988, from more than 350,000 to 223 confirmed in 2012 globally. Despite these gains globally, there still exit high inequalities in child survival in access to health and immunization rate, the GCNH said as health workers and volunteers sprawl to have access to resources in their quest to provide children with the life-saving vaccines.
It, therefore, implored on the government to, as a matter of necessity, make adequate investment in the national budget to translate commitments on child health into action. The Government of Ghana (GOG) spends about six million dollars -equivalent GHS19 million annually to provide vaccines and immunize children in Ghana -with Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunisation (GAVI) paying for 98 percent of vaccines whilst GOG pays only 2 percent.
For the past 15 years it has contributed about 90million dollars to Ghana’s immunization system and as Ghana is now a lower middle income country those supports from GAVI would troop in no more.