THE GHANA Health Service will start a mass vaccination campaign in the three Northern regions from October 2 to 12, against Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) caused by the Serotype A. The vaccination is free of charge to the public and will take the form of an injection.

The mass vaccination dubbed the ?2012 Meningitis ?A? Preventive Campaign? is expected to provide 10 year protection against CSM and will focus on people from age 1 to 29 years. Deputy Director of the Upper East Health Directorate in Charge of Public Health, Dr. James Akpablie who announced this at a press conference in Bolgatanga said people who fell within the target age group were more exposed to the meningococcal disease than those in higher age groups.

The vaccination will also cover pregnant women and lactating mothers within the age brackets. However
people from age 30 upwards and children below one are not to be vaccinated.

A total of 570 vaccinators, 1700 volunteers and 90 supervisors have been recruited for the mass Meningitis A vaccination. The 10-day campaign will take the form of immunization posts positioned either at health facilities or other designated points.

There will also be mobile posts in communities that will be positioned at schools, churches, mosques, bus stops and market places to vaccinate people around those areas.

According to Dr. Akpablie, the three Northern regions fall with the meningitis belt hence the need for long term protection to reduce the dependence on the annual mass vaccination cycle.

Although reported meningitis cases have been caused by serotypes A, B, C, Y and W135 across countries within the meningitis belt, reported cases in Ghana over the years have been caused mostly by the Serotype A and on a few occasions Serotype C and W135.

In 1996/97 for example, Serotype A was responsible for a massive epidemic in Ghana in which about 18,703 cases were reported, with 1,356 deaths mostly recorded in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.

CSM according to Dr. Akpablie brought about a reduction in the workforce and households in Northern Ghana anytime there was an epidemic thereby reducing their socio-economic progress.

The Serotype A conjugate vaccines for Africa were produced under the Meningitis Vaccine Project which is a partnership between the WHO and the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), created in 2001 with core funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The vaccine to be used for the 2012 preventive campaign was developed by Serum Institute, an India company at the cost of 0.05 US cents each.

From: Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Bolgatanga

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