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16.02.2005 Regional News

National Immunisation Day campaign launched at Abuakwa

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Abuakwa (Ash), Feb. 16, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor has asked Regional Ministers and District Chief Executives to take up leadership roles at the regional and district levels in the fight against the eradication of polio in the country.

He has also charged Ghanaians to put their hands on deck to make the country a better and safer place for children.

These were contained in an address read for him at the launch of this year's National Immunisation Day (NID) campaign at Abuakwa in the Atwima District of Ashanti on Wednesday.

The dates for the 2005 synchronised NIDs for West and Central Africa for polio eradication are February 25-27 for the first, 8-10 April for the second, 11-13 November for the third and 9-11 December for the fourth rounds.

The President noted that Ghana could not afford to neglect its children and said the time to act to eradicate polio, which was on sight was now.

President Kufuor said Ghana had made tremendous efforts to eradicate the disease once and for all, adding that the fight against polio must continue until final victory was won.

"We owe it a duty to protect our children and we must ensure that our children are immunised during the immunisation days and also patronise the routine immunisation which takes place at all centres throughout the country all year round", the President emphasised. He expressed gratitude to health workers and volunteers who had work hard in the fight to eradicate polio from the country.

President Kufuor also thanked partners such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, Rotary International and centres for disease control for their support towards the eradication of the disease in the country.

Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said Ghana's efforts at eradicating polio had yielded results despite the setback in 2003 where eight cases of wild poliovirus were recorded.

He urged parents, teachers and caretakers to avail themselves of the opportunity to immunise the children in their care against polio. Professor Akosa said if children were protected there would be no worry about importations from Nigeria or any other country, as there would be no one to infect.

He assured the public that the overdose of the vaccine was not injurious but rather very beneficial to the children.

Dr Melville George, WHO representative in Ghana, said the priority of the organisation's agenda for the next few months was to implement quality NIDs and achieve interruption of wild polio-transmission by the end of 2005 in Africa, adding that, the target year for certification in the WHO Africa region was 2005.

To achieve this, he said, there was the need to provide quality NIDs to every child in West and Central Africa sub-regions, routine Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) services must be strengthened to expand coverage and reduce waste and also build upon and maintain certification level surveillance to detect every single wild poliovirus still circulating.

Dr Kwadwo Odei Antwi-Agyei, National Programme Manager of EPI, said since September 2003, Ghana had not recorded any case of wild poliovirus.

He attributed it to the high level of protection for children, which was achieved through the routine and supplementary immunisation.

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