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11.02.2009 Health

About five million children to be immunized against polio

By GNA

About five million children under-five years

would be immunized against the poliovirus from February 12-14 in the

first round of the National Immunization Days (NIDs).

The second round would be held from March 26-28.

Some 42,500 volunteers would move from house-to-house

throughout the country to carry out the exercise.
The NIDs will have Vitamin A being given to 3.3 million children

from six months to five years.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency, Dr Kwadwo Antwi Agyei,

Programme Manager for Expanded Programme on Immunization of the

Ghana Health Service, said the NIDs were in response to the recording

of eight polio cases, which were imported from Benin, paralyzing

children in the Northern Region.
Ghana had had a polio-free period from September 2003 to August

2008 before the eight cases were reported.
He said the specimen of the cases were confirmed positive after

being sent to South Africa for further sequencing to determine the

source of the virus after the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical

Research had done some analysis.
Dr Antwi Agyei noted that Ghana was surrounded by Benin,

Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, that had wild polio viruses

and the national surveillance indicators showed a lot of “compatibles to

polio” because of inherent weakness.
He explained that the doses that would be given to targeted children

during the NIDs would be extra doses of polio vaccines that every child

under-five years should receive even if the child had already been

immunized. It does not replace routine immunization.

“Polio will continue to threaten children everywhere as long as it

exists somewhere. In this age of global travel, a new outbreak of polio

might only be plane flight away.”
The NIDs are organized by Ghana Health Service with support from

WHO, UNICEF, Centre for Disease Control, Ghana National Polio

Plus Committee of Rotary International and JICA, among others.

Dr Antwi Agyei urged parents; caregivers and guardians to make

sure that their children under-five years received two drops of polio

vaccine each during the two rounds and patronized the routine

vaccination as well.
He called for work to be done to ensure that Ghana was declared as

polio-free, pointing out that “this will only come to fruition when we

together with our neighbouring countries put coordinated

interventions”.
Polio is an infectious disease caused by a germ called Polio. It

commonly causes lameness in the arms, legs or upper parts of the

body. It affects the nerves and muscles of the body causing paralysis.

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