The Ministry of Health (MoH) has argued that despite the challenges in relation to the shortage of some childhood vaccines in Ghana, the country’s immunisation performance coverage remains among the best in the world.
It said the country recorded about 95 per cent coverage of childhood immunisation in 2021.
At a press briefing on Tuesday (March 7, 2023) to debunk allegations that due to lack of some vaccines, people are dying from the outbreak of measles in the Northern Region, the Ministry said “It is important to correct the erroneous impression that there have been deaths from Measles in Ghana recently.”
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu who addressed the press briefing explained that “For the avoidance of doubt, there have been no deaths from the recently recorded spike in Measles cases. Indeed there have been no deaths since 2003 though we have recorded cases annually.”
Ghana has been experiencing shortages of some childhood vaccines, a situation that has attracted attention from different quarters, including Parliament and the Paediatric Society of Ghana.
The MoH said it is working with UNICEF to fast-track the processes to obtain some of the vaccines as early as possible.
“Working with UNICEF, we are fast-tracking the processes and it is expected that the vaccines would be supplied in the next few weeks All things being equal,” the minister said.
He added, “the Ministry of Health will ensure that we stay on track with our immunisation record and quickly overcome this bottlenecks.”
Ministry of Health Statement on vaccines
PRESS BRIEFING ON SHORTAGE OF SOME ROUTINE CHILDHOOD VACCINES IN THE COUNTRY AND THE OUTBREAK OF MEASLES IN THE NORTHERN REGION
1. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, thank you for this pleasant opportunity to address you on the shortage of some childhood vaccines in the country and matters arising, and the outbreak of measles in the Northern Region.
2. The Ministry of Health has been seriously concerned about the shortage of some childhood vaccines and their effect on the Vaccination Programme in the country. This is a major source of worry for the Ministry, Partners, caregivers, and population.
3. We are aware of the implications of the shortages including disease outbreaks, and effects on child survival
4. The Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) has been a flagship disease control program in the country and arguably one of the best programmes if not the best in the sub-region with high coverage levels of over 95%. We have an established system for forecasting, procurement, supply and distribution of routine vaccines, and monitoring their use.
5. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is true we have had some vaccine shortages in the country since the last quarter of 2022. The vaccines in short supply are BCG, Measles-Rubella (MR), and Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). This shortage is nationwide.
6. The recent shortage in Vaccines for measles, as regrettable as it is, is symptomatic of the steady global decline in measles vaccination since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic.
7. Permit me to quote from a WHO recent publication on the subject that puts the challenge we are dealing with into perspective:
8. Ghana’s Ministry of Health has been making efforts to ensure we secure adequate stocks of vaccines despite this global challenge.
9. We have made all necessary efforts to ensure that despite these challenges we secure adequate stocks within the next few weeks.
10. It is important to correct the erroneous impression that there have been deaths from Measles in Ghana recently. For the avoidance of doubt, there have been no deaths from the recently recorded spike in Measles cases. Indeed there have no deaths since 2003 though we have recorded cases annually.
11. Finally, despite this challenge, Ghana’s immunization performance coverage remains among the best in the world. In 2021 we recorded 95% coverage.
12. Working with UNICEF, we are fast-tracking the processes and it is expected that the vaccines would be supplied in the next few weeks All things being equal.
13. The Ministry of Health will ensure that we stay on track with our immunization record and quickly overcome this bottlenecks.
14. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, I thank you for your attention.