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15.11.2005 General News

Church protests against immunisation of children

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Accra, Nov. 15, GNA- Over 250 children from 0-5 years at Asafo, Abodom and Bobikuma all in the Agona District of the Central Region were not immunised in the first phase of this year's National Poliomyelitis Immunisation Day.

This was due to the persistent refusal of their parents who are members of the Jesus Christ Apostolic Faith Church.

Ms Cynthia Obbu, District Coordinator of the Health Management Team who disclosed this to the GNA after the three-day exercise on Sunday, said parents of the children protested against health officials from immunising their children because of their religious belief. She said the situation became chaotic and terrible when the health officials chose to immunise the children during school hours, the teachers asked the children to stand aside because their parents had issued threats to the teachers to exempt them from the exercise. According to Ms Obbu the problem was more prevalent at Agona Asafo, which is the headquarters of the church, and for more than three years officials from the both district health management team and Central Regional Health Directorate had not been able to resolve the problem.

She said last year, Dr. T. Stop Quarshie, a Public health specialist from Cape Coast came to Agona Asafo to meet the head pastor and church executives to discuss how best to allow the children to receive the polio drugs but this proved futile. Ms Obbu said statistics available from Abodom and Bobikuma in previous years were not encouraging due to the religious belief of the parents.

She appealed to Mr. Ben Mensah, Agona District Chief Executive, the Regional and District Police Command, and the District BNI to intervene and help the health officials to get those children immunised.

Ms Obbu pointed out that it would be dangerous for the non-immunised children to interact with the other children who had been vaccinated both at home and school in order to protect them from contracting this incurable disease.

Mr. Vincent Anokye-Aidoo, Agona District Disease Control Officer said 42,461 children under five years were immunised at the close of the second day of the exercise, representing 85 per cent, out of the target of 49,939 children to be immunized.

He said 36,490 children between 12 months to 59 months were given Vitamin A vaccines, while 4,563 children between the ages of six months to 11 months received Vitamin B Vaccines during the exercise.

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