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Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare

Gov’t pays $10m for Polio, Measles vaccines

The Government of Ghana has transferred about $10 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the procurement of polio and measles vaccines for the country.

This follows the shortage of the vaccines in the country over government’s indebtedness to UNICEF, the international body that distributes the vaccine across the globe.

The vaccines are usually administered to newborn babies to fight the deadly childhood diseases.

Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Wednesday, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare, said Ghana will soon receive the supplies because of the payment.

“The fact is that, we get the polio vaccines procured for us through UNICEF. There was an outstanding bill from last year which was not paid. God being so good, just this week we have managed to clear that bill and as we speak now they will be airlifting the polio vaccines to the country.”

“The one that we are transferring is about 10 million dollars which we are going to use to get all the consignment we need for the next year or so, and we will then schedule and clear all the outstanding bills,” he added.

When asked whether the shortages could adversely affected babies and infants who needed it the most, Dr. Asare said they have put in place contingency measures in mitigating such occurrence.

“What we are doing to mitigate it is that; we call other districts and regions where they have stock, then we forward to places where the stock had gone low. So a day or two difference will not make much difference so we will sort it out I’m sure by the close of the week,” he assured.

Annual vaccine supply

The Director-General explained that, Ghana usually receives vaccine supply to last for about a year.

“We have yearly consumption; but the problem was that, we pay for the previous year’s outstanding bills and then also this year’s bills. It comes to the Central cold home at Korle Bu and we also send it to the regional centres and they also send it to the various districts. When I checked up the money has been released. Immediately the money has been transferred which we got a copy of the transfer yesterday [Tuesday], they will release the vaccines,” he added.

About Polio

Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus and mainly affects children under 5 years of age. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.

The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (for example, contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1 in 200 infections lead to irreversible paralysis. It adds that among those paralyzed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

WHO adds that failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200,000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.

In Ghana since the outbreak of polio in 2008, no such cases have been recorded in the country as of 2015.

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