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Asunafo North records low coverage of malaria vaccine fourth dose

Malaria Vaccine 54 A health personnel administering RTS,S, to a child

Wed, 9 Jun 2021 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Correspondence from Eastern Region

Children who have attained the age of two years and are supposed to be due for the fourth dose of the ongoing piloting of the malaria vaccine implementation in the Asunafo North of the Ahafo Region have not presented to take the dose as expected.

The malaria vaccine, also called RTS,S, is administered to eligible children who receive the vaccine at specified times from the age of 6 months, with the final dose given at 24 months (two years) of age.

On attaining age of 6 months, parents send the baby to the Child Welfare Clinic to be given the first dose of the RTS,S. The second dose is administered when the child is seven months old, the third dose is given when the child turns nine months old and the final and fourth dose given to the child at age two.

However, most of the children in the Asunafo North Municipal who are supposed to finish taking all four doses of the vaccine to keep them immune from catching malaria, are not made available to take the fourth and final dose of the vaccine.

The Municipal Disease Control Officer, also in charge of Malaria Control Activities in the Asunafo North Municipality, Peter Paul Anekor, disclosed this in an interview with Ghanaweb's McAnthony Dagyenga at Goaso in the Ahafo Region.

According to him, so far, RTS,S 1 administered to children in the Municipality totalled 4,151 and the RTS,S 2 given totalled 3,810 while that of RTS,S 3 captured was 3,564 children.

“RTS,S 4 fell to 473 children. For RTS,S 2 and 3, the dropout rate is ok but the RTS,S 4 that is where we have a large difference,” he expressed.

Mr. Anekor blamed this heavy drop of the fourth dose on the seeming nonchalance of some parents as well as the poor or deplorable road networks and the inadequate availability of transportation.

“We do not have motorbikes, transport is a big challenge. Out of the 18 facilities we have in the Municipality, only three have motorbikes. It is very serious. The rest have to be renting cars and motorbikes to their various communities which makes transportation costs go high,” he stressed.

His stated challenges which contribute to the low coverage of the RTS,S 4 are not different from what some of the community health nurses interviewed also stated.

“The commitment of the mothers to continue with the doses is a challenge. Sometimes we have to trace them to their homes to administer the remaining doses,” Gloria Kukyi said.

Bright Odum, also a community nurse said, “There was a woman who came here this morning. Her child is supposed to take her last dose next month but she said they are relocating to Sehwi and that place too the piloting is not going on there. We tried to convince her to make the child available for her last dose but the woman said no.”

According to the Malaria Control Officer, even though a lot of sensitisation has taken place to enlighten most of the nursing mothers, “we need to intensify more education.”

“We need to intensify more education. Currently, we even want to go to the schools so that we will be able to capture them. All the schools will be informed so that when the Child Welfare Clinic team is going there they will get the children’s parents to bring their wards’ weighing cards.

“By that, they will be able to capture the two-year-old children. Other than that, when you are waiting for the parents to bring their two-year-old to the child welfare centre, it will be a challenge,” he posited.

Meanwhile, on a general malaria case recorded in the Asunafo North Municipal, the Municipality saw a decrease in the malaria cases comparing the years 2019 and 2020.

In 2019, a total of 44,308 malaria cases were recorded in the Municipality, out of which 29% of them were children below five years old.

There was an appreciable stride achieved in the year 2020 when the Municipality recorded total cases of 34,661 with 27% of them being children under five years old.

Peter Paul Anekor assured that his outfit was committed to working harder at reducing cases of malaria, especially among children, to the barest minimum if not to eliminate it entirely.

Ghana is poised to eradicate malaria and more efforts are being made by the African Media in Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) and the Malaria Control Programme to help achieve this feat.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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