Ghana introduced a second dose of measles into its routine immunization program on 1 February, through support from the GAVI Alliance. Ghana is amongst the first African countries to introduce a 2nd measles dose, also known as “MCV2?. The WHO Ghana’s Stanley Diamenu describes the steps Ghana took to prepare for this important change to its immunization program.
Text by Stanley Diamenu, WHO-EPI Ghana
Ghana has introduced a second dose of measles vaccination (MCV2) into the routine immunization program, targeting all children at the age of 18 months. Ghana is the eighth country in WHO Africa Region to introduce MCV2. The country has led a strong routine immunization program over the last decade, resulting in a WHO-UNICEF estimated 93% coverage of measles 1st dose in 2010. The national EPI manager, Dr. K.O. Antwi Agyei, told a press briefing on 24 January that introduction of the 2nd dose will maintain the reduction in incidence and deaths of measles, in line with the WHO Africa Regional measles elimination goal, and contribute towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal 4.
Ghana was one of five countries that were found to be eligible for MCV2 introduction in 2011 and applied for support from GAVI for the introduction. In order to prepare for the introduction on 1st February, Ghana:
- Appointed a national working group with specific oversight responsibility over the introduction of new vaccines
- Revised the monthly immunization reporting and monitoring forms to include the measles second dose
- Oriented the Regional health teams to build capacity for training of the district health teams and field staff on vaccine safety and waste management
- Released funds to Regions and Districts to support areas including training and social mobilization
During the 24 January press conference, the Honourable Minister of Health, Mr Joseph Yiele Chireh, called on all caregivers to take advantage of the opportunity to get their children immunized against measles, and on the press to help inform communities about availability of the 2nd dose.