Accra, Sept. 30, GNA - Dr Kwadwo Odei Antwi-Agyei, National Programmes Manager for Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), on Thursday said though Ghana was currently polio-free, it could not attain certification until the whole of Africa had been adjudged free of the disease.
He said this called for extra efforts to support neighbouring countries in the West Africa Sub-Region to totally eradicate polio and ensure the sustenance of surveillance, to maintain the status of being polio-free.
Dr Antwi-Agyei, at a press briefing on the National Immunisation Day (NID) scheduled for October and November 2004, said the programme was being sponsored at a total cost of over 4.5 million dollars. He stated that the programme be held under the theme "Make Ghana A Nation Without Polio" would be in two phases; commencing from October eight to October 10 and to continue from November 19 to November 21 to ensure that at least 5.5 million children under five years were immunised against the disease.
Dr Antwi-Agyei said Ghana until the year 2003, had succeeded in ensuring that polio became outdated, but suffered a setback, with a record of eight cases of wild polioviruses in eight districts, within six regions of the country.
He stated that major surveillances were mounted to ensure corrections and mopping up of the gaps in the NID programmes.
"So far we have not recorded any case this year and hope that all children under age five would be immunized against polio to prevent a repetition of the records of the previous year," he said.
He, however, said since the poliovirus knew no boundaries, it was imperative to co-ordinate with "our neighbours to ensure a synchronisation of eradication programmes that would best help eradicate polio in Africa."
Dr Antwi-Agyei emphasised that more doses of the vaccine was not injurious, but beneficial to the child, explaining that scientific evidence had it that children in developing countries required between 10 to 15 doses of the vaccine in order to develop full immunity.
Dr Antwi-Agyei cautioned that Ghana must not rejoice in her achievement when her close neighbours like Nigeria still had high recordings of wild polio viruses of 301 cases as at June 21, 2004, compared to 58 at the same period last year.
Mr Kofi Poku-Adusei, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC), called on parents, caregivers, religious leaders and the public to assist the Government in ensuring that all children under the age of five were immunised against polio to help maintain Ghana's status of a polio- free country.
He said about 46,000 volunteers and 4,000 supervisors had been contracted to take part in the NID programme. He commended the efforts of the Japanese government, USAID, UNICEF, the Royal Danish Embassy, WHO, the Rotary International and the Centres for Disease Control for donating towards the programme.