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UNICEF Calls for Concerted Efforts to Eradicate Polio

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Madam Anne Claire Dufay, UNICEF Representative in Ghana, has called for concerted efforts to eradicate Poliomyelitis (polio) from the surface of the earth.

“You can all be Champions of polio eradication. As we join hands on the road to the Polio endgame, we can implement strategies and innovations to reach the non-immunised children, to bridge equity gaps,” Madam Dufay stated at the launch of the introduction of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) into Routine Immunisation in Accra.

“This is particularly important in hard to reach and peri-urban areas. Let’s leave no child behind, in the spirit of Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals,” she added.

Madam Dufay said when we walk on the street and see a child with some form of paralysis, ‘polio’ also comes to mind; stating that “If we are not careful, it can also happen to our own children”.

She noted that through the concerted efforts of the Ministry of Health and partners, Ghana’s certification as Polio-free was approved in 2015.

She said this was possible because of the sustained high coverage for the Polio vaccine.

“The results of the 2017 Cluster Survey on the Expanded Programme on Immunisation show that the country attained 94.6 per cent coverage for the third dose of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV3),” she said.

“Until today, the Oral Polio Vaccine has been used to protect children against the Poliovirus infections,” Madam Dufay said.

She explained that the Introduction of the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) by injection was important because Ghanaian children would now be better protected against any potential poliovirus infection.

She said Ghana was demonstrating commitment to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the Endgame Strategic Plan.

She said the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) in Ghana had kept pace with global developments over the years.

“It has a track record of successful introduction of new vaccines, as well as attaining and maintaining high coverage for vaccines,” she said.

Madam Dufay said: “When we are in the communities, we interact with health staff and families at vaccination centres.”

She cited that recently, a mother in Bongo, in the Upper East Region, said she would travel a long distance to immunise her children because she knows immunisation was important to protect them.

The Country Representative said: “She is giving a chance to her children to survive and thrive in life. And fortunately this mother didn’t have to travel far because the clinic was close to her.”

Madam Dufay lauded the Government and the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), for ensuring the availability of supplies for the introduction of Inactivated Polio Vaccines.

She said UNICEF would continue to work with the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders to support the Expanded Programme on Immunisation to facilitate the procurement of vaccines, help strengthen the vaccine cold chain, and mobilise communities through communication strategies towards polio eradication.

Source: GNA

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