NEWS COMMENTARY CELEBTRATING WORLD IMMUNIZATION| AFRICAN VACCINATION WEEK AMIDST COVID-19 THREAT.
Despite all odds against the health of people worldwide, life still goes on with the search for increased care and knowledge for the promotion of good health. The active rigorous search for a vaccine for Covid-19 brings to the fore the importance of vaccines in human existence. From birth to adulthood vaccines are a sure bet to activate one’s immune system against diseases. Many dangerous diseases can be prevented through the use of vaccines. Some of these are, measles, poliomyelitis, Tetanus, Cholera, Malaria, TB and a host of others such as COVID-19. As if by design, as the search for a vaccine for Covid-19 races on the global community is celebrating World Immunization| African Vaccination Week from 24th to 30th April, with the theme; “Vaccines Work for us all”. This focuses on how the people who develop, deliver and receive them are heroes by working to protect the health of everyone. Everyone, yes everyone because vaccines do not only protect children but also adolescents and adults, who need booster vaccines every ten years. This is because not all vaccines given to children give lifelong protection. African Vaccination Week which is marked during the last week in April yearly has assumed global dimension. This year’s campaign is demonstrating the value of vaccines for the health of children, communities and the world and to show how routine immunization is the foundation for strong resilient health systems.
Above all, the week is to highlight the need to build on immunization progress while addressing gaps, including investment in vaccines. Investment is key since vaccine production is not a child’s play. The malaria vaccine which Ghana is piloting as one of the three African countries took 30 solid years to develop. Phase 3 trials were conducted at eleven sites in Seven African countries with two sites in Ghana at Kintampo and Agogo. The piloting involves conducting further observational studies, the feasibility of delivering the required 4 doses of the vaccine in routine settings, potential role in reducing childhood deaths and the safety profile in the context of routine use.
The WHO has designated this year as International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and commends them for their crucial role as early vaccine champions and dispensers to mothers and caregivers. As such health service providers are being encouraged to use every visit by caregivers to any health facility to check the vaccination status of children under five years and provide any dose of vaccines a child may have missed. This is imperative as the Covid-19 pandemic poses a challenge to the healthcare system and immunization services. Mothers and caregivers should take advantage of the African Vaccination week which in Ghana also ushers in the Child Health Promotion Week to access all the services which are available free of charge to give their children a sound foundation to a healthy living. This is not the time to relax but rise up to secure the future wellbeing of the country’s children.
BY THERESA OWUSU-AKO, A JOURNALIST.