Ghana has been hit with widespread shortages of vaccines for routine immunisation of babies from birth to at least 18 months.
Under the routine vaccination programme, Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) disease; oral polio vaccine 0 (OPV); Measles-Rubella; Meningitis and Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) are administered.
Health experts fear that the situation has the potential to increase the vulnerability of children to the diseases the vaccines seek to protect them against.
Several regions including the Greater Accra, Central, Eastern, Western, Upper East and Upper West Regions have been affected by the vaccine shortage, officials have said.
The Central Hospital in Tamale, north of the country closed down its Paediatric Unit last year due to an outbreak of measles. But there are still no vaccines to protect newborn babies.
Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Wednesday said he was worried about the shortage of vaccines in the country.
He told lawmakers while delivering the 2023 State of the Nation Address (SONA) in parliament, that if prolonged, the shortage would affect Ghana’s childhood immunization program.
Ghana’s immunization drive and campaign is recognized as one of the success stories globally.
“As part of our desire not to become part of the global trend, the government has taken steps to ensure that stocks of these vaccines are procured and supplied, as a matter of urgency,” Akufo-Addo said.
He assured that an elaborate program “to catch up on children who have missed their vaccinations immediately stocks arrive,” is being developed by health officials.
“I want to encourage all parents and caregivers to ensure that eligible children are vaccinated once this program begins. No child should be denied access to vaccination. Mercifully, not a single child has died from a measles outbreak,” Akufo-Addo appealed.