Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu has assured the general public that the shortage of vaccines in Ghana will not happen again.
He said steps have been taken by the government to procure adequate vaccines.
Speaking in Parliament on Friday, March 10, the Dormaa Central Member of Parliament appealed to his colleague lawmakers to assist him in getting the right funding for vaccine procurement.
“Mr Speaker, it is a very serious public interest issue, the assurance I will give and I can give for the first time in the chamber here is that this will not happen again.
“I will advise that you will help me in my advocacy to get adequate funding for vaccines, even the health insurance budget. So when we meet with committees, they have always been talking about it, and even in the chamber, it has come up that if Parliament approves adequately for us and we always have our budget well we will be able to supply. I assure you that whatever challenges happened I don’t think we are going to face these challenges any longer.
“I can stand here and assure the House that within two weeks or three weeks we will get vaccines, even probably before that. I can’t get my hands on a specific date but probably even before that, we may get the vaccines that we are talking about. Throughout the period we have made 6.4million dollars equivalent to UNICEF who supplies us the vaccines.”
At an earlier press conference he had on the vaccine shortage, he indicated that the vaccines in short supply were Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG), Measles-Rubella (MR), and Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV).
This shortage was nationwide, he said.
Addressing a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, March 7, the Dormaa Central Member of Parliament said that the recent shortage in vaccines for measles, as regrettable as it is, is symptomatic of the steady global decline in measles vaccination since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic.
“Permit me to quote from a WHO recent publication on the subject that puts the challenge we are dealing with into perspective: Ghana’s Ministry of Health has been making efforts to ensure we secure adequate stocks of vaccines despite this global challenge.
“We have made all necessary efforts to ensure that despite these challenges, we secure adequate stocks within the next few weeks. It is important to correct the erroneous impression that there have been deaths from Measles in Ghana recently. For the avoidance of doubt, there have been no deaths from the recently recorded spike in Measles cases. Indeed there have no deaths since 2003 though we have recorded cases annually.
“Finally, despite this challenge, Ghana’s immunization performance coverage remains among the best in the world. In 2021 we recorded 95% coverage.
“Working with UNICEF, we are fast-tracking the processes and it is expected that the vaccines would be supplied in the next few weeks All things being equal. The Ministry of Health will ensure that we stay on track with our immunization record and quickly overcome these bottlenecks,” he said.
On Tuesday, March 7 some nursing mothers recounted how the vaccine shortage was affecting their babies.
A nursing mother at Adabraka Polyclinic in Accra, Naa Dromo Torto told TV3’s Judith Awortwe-Tandoh on Tuesday, March 7 that her 4-month-old baby has not received the polio vaccine for two consecutive months.
She said “Some mothers gave birth last month and they have not gotten the vaccines, this month too we are not getting so I think those babies are at high risk in experiencing some form of disabilities.”
Asked what assurances have been given to them to get their babies vaccinated, she said “Last month, they actually told me that the vaccine is finished so this month, Today too we are hearing the same story that there is still a shortage.”
Another mother Georgina Annum said “My baby is 9 months old. My baby has to take two vaccines, Polio and Yellow Fever but there is a shortage so right now we are waiting for the nurses to provide some for us. For two months now my baby has not been taking the two vaccines.”
Parts of the country have lately been experiencing a vaccine shortage of vaccines.