GHANA— The Defense Against AIDS Poverty and Underdevelopment (DAAPU) and its partners, NIYEL West Africa, have jointly urged the Ghanaian government and other stakeholders to promptly allocate additional funding to health authorities for child immunization.

DAAPU is a Ghanaian NGO that is dedicated to delivering health services to the marginalized and poor.

The NGO is committed to addressing concerns related to communicable diseases, with a primary focus on TB, HIV, and malaria. They have recently expanded their scope to include food security, nutrition, the environment, water, and sanitation.

This announcement was made on World Polio Day, celebrated on October 24, 2023, under the theme “Make Polio History, “which underscores the critical need for adequate vaccine procurement and timely delivery to enhance immunization uptake.

Polio is a debilitating and potentially fatal disease caused by the poliovirus, which spreads from person to person and can infect the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis.

It presents flu-like symptoms, including a sore throat, fever, weariness, nausea, headache, and stomach discomfort.

 Eric Agbozo, the Chief Executive Officer of DAAPU, was concerned that the WHO Africa Region declared Africa to be free of wild poliovirus (WPV) in August 2020, yet in February 2022, Malawi declared an outbreak of wild polio.

To reaffirm his commitment to eradicating polio globally, he stressed the importance of monitoring and creating demand for vaccinations if wild polio still exists in the world.

He also pointed out that, although Ghana has not experienced any outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus 2 (cVDPV2) since 2021, the country remains susceptible to reinfection. Therefore, continuous efforts to increase vaccine demand are crucial.

Mr. Agbozo called on the Ghanaian government, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, and the Ministry of Finance to prioritize child immunization by allocating additional resources to the Ghana Health Services through the Ministry of Health.

This allocation will facilitate the adequate procurement and timely delivery of vaccinations, resulting in increased immunization rates.

The statement urged the media, religious organizations, traditional authorities, community-based groups, opinion leaders, and other civil society organizations to support this initiative, as the government alone cannot bear the cost of immunization.

Furthermore, it encouraged parents and caregivers to take action by regularly bringing children under the age of five to health facilities to access vaccines.

It also emphasized the importance of child-friendly facilities and the active involvement of health officers in providing high-quality support.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 1988, there were 350,000 cases of wild polio in 125 countries, resulting in more than 1,000 children becoming paralyzed every day.

However, this number has reduced significantly to only 30 cases reported worldwide in 2022, with the majority of them being concentrated in three countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Mozambique.

Although substantial efforts to eradicate polio have prevented more than 20 million cases of paralysis, these three countries still face the risk of outbreaks.

The CDC projects that initiatives such as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) will save over US$33 billion by the year 2100 if polio is effectively controlled, leading to a polio-free world.

GPEI is a national government-led public-private partnership with six core partners: the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

GPEI was established in 1988, shortly after the World Health Assembly agreed to eliminate the disease.

Despite ongoing challenges, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the GPEI program is unwavering in its commitment to permanently end all wild poliovirus transmission, halt the spread of poliovirus variants, and prevent further outbreaks.

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