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Ghana celebrates 10 years of polio-free status, mounts 2 billboards

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi

The Rotary Club of Accra-Airport in collaboration with the Ghana National PolioPlus Committee on Wednesday unveiled two billboards in Accra to help the campaign for the eradication of polio in Ghana and by extension, in the world.

The two billboards with the images of Samini and Okyeame Kwame, both popular musicians in Ghana, have the inscription “End Polio Now.”

Speaking at a short ceremony to unveil the billboards, the Chairperson of the Ghana National PolioPlus Committee of Rotary International, Madam Theresah Osei-Tutu, said lack of understanding on polio vaccines as well as lack of political will were greatly obstructing efforts to totally eradicate polio in the world.

Progress made

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She said although polio had been reduced to its barest minimum in the history of the world, there were still places, such as Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan where the disease was still on high.

“We have made incredible progress and we are optimistic that we can end this disease, but getting to zero cases is going to take even more progress, perseverance and patience,” Madam Osei-Tutu said.

She explained that since Rotary formed PolioPlus in 1985, “We have seen a reduction in polio cases from 350,000 a year in 125 countries to around 30 cases of wild poliovirus in just two countries last year.”

She said although Ghana and other countries had done well in achieving polio-free status, their polio-free status would be of no benefit to others if the disease is not eradicated completely in all parts of the world.

“The polio-free status of any country is meaningless, unless it is linked to the polio-free status of the entire world,” Madam Osei-Tutu stated.

She commended all actors who had played a role in making Ghana a polio-free country, saying “I would like to applaud the Ghana Health Service for achieving a polio-free Ghana for the last 10 years.”

Immunization

In her welcome address, the President of Rotary Club of Accra-Airport, Afua Ababio, said the mounting of the billboards formed part of activities to mark World’s Immunization Week as well as to celebrate 10 years of Polio-free Ghana.

According to her, immunization could protect against 25 different infectious agents and diseases from infancy to old age.

She explained that vaccines saves lives and that “the effort to end polio is a proof that vaccines indeed do work,” stressing that “this is why polio continues to be the number one project for Rotary and  continue to be so till the world is completely polio-free.”

On his part, Samini, who graced the occasion said he was happy to be part of global efforts to end polio not only in Ghana but in the world.

He said his image being used for the polio eradication billboard was an honour to him and pledged that he would do everything within his power to get polio eradication message to all his followers.