More than 1,000 children in the Central Region have successfully received the new malaria vaccine, since the vaccination exercise started about two weeks ago.
The Regional Director of Health Service, Dr Alexis Nang-Beifubah, said only three children had so far reacted to the vaccine.
Speaking at a regional stakeholders’ durbar on Post Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP) in Abura yesterday, he described claims that the vaccine killed, maimed or caused disability in children as baseless, and not supported by the scientific evidence available.
The durbar was organised to sensitise key stakeholders to the malaria vaccine implementation programme and also request for support and collaboration to ensure children were vaccinated against malaria.
Dr Nang-Beifubah said no state institution or agency would allow unsafe products or vaccines to be introduced in the healthcare system.
“The vaccine and its safety profile circulating on social media and other write-ups is very unfortunate and dangerous, as it has the potential to erode all the gains we have chalked up over many years of hard work and significant investments,” he said.
According to the director, malaria accounted for a significant number of diseases and deaths, particularly in children less than five years and in pregnant mothers across countries, including sub-Saharan Africa.
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“Ghana also accounted for about four per cent of the total number of malaria cases worldwide in the year 2016 alone, which translates to over 10 million episodes, 380,000 admissions and 1,260 deaths, particularly in children less than five years,” he added.
The Head of Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in the Central Region, Mr John Odai-Tettey, said the malaria vaccine, which had been used over 30 years in Europe, underwent a clinical trial phase at Kintampo and Agogo over a decade ago.
He said the immunisation regimes in Ghana and the FDA’s efficient and robust safety monitoring system for medicines and vaccines contributed to the country’s participation in the pilot implementation exercise alongside Kenya and Malawi.
“The FDA encourages all parents to observe their children closely after the vaccination, and report promptly to health facilities, any safety issue experienced by the children,” Mr Odai-Tettey advised.
For her part, the Queenmother of Mankessim, Nana Ama Amissah III, entreated the FDA to wage war on illegal drugs at markets and lorry stations to save unsuspecting patrons.
She called on traditional rulers to encourage people in their respective communities to take their children for vaccination.