Vaccines will be available in three weeks, says GHS

Vaccines against hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza type B, meningitis and six infectious diseases harmful to babies are currently in short supply in Ghana

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has given the assurance that vaccines used for the immunisation of babies from birth to at least 18 months, which are reportedly in short supply, will be available in three weeks.

Vaccines against hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza type B, meningitis and six infectious diseases (diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, pertussis and tuberculosis) harmful to babies are administered under the routine vaccination.

Media reports on Thursday (23 February) indicated that there was a nationwide shortage of the vaccines.

In a side-line interview at a national conference at the Christian Service University in the Ashanti Region, the director-general of the Ghana Health Service, Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, explained that the shortage in supply is because of the depreciation of the cedi.

It caused some delays in the procurement of the vaccines. However, he clarified that not all the vaccines are in short supply.

“There are two types of vaccines. We have the traditional ones that the nation buys and we also have the ones that we usually get in collaboration with the government where the government pays part,” he said.

“We have had some delays in procuring some of those vaccines for which polio, MR, and BCG are in short supply. It was also because the ministry’s budget to procure them are in cedis, and at the time it was due for procurement, because of exchange differences it was very difficult to procure, so now we have done it,” Kuma-Aboagye said.

Kuma-Aboagye added that the vaccine shortage will be resolved in the next three weeks for vaccination to resume. “Within the next three weeks we will do a quick catch-up vaccination for the kids who have had a delay in taking their dosage to catch up and, we hope that within the next three weeks we will address it.”

The conference was on the theme, “Addressing the increasing health challenges in Ghana: exploring diverse perspectives.”

Kuma-Aboagye, who was the keynote speaker, mentioned some measures being taken by the government to improve healthcare delivery in the country. He announced that healthcare delivery in rural communities will soon run a 24-hour service.

He added that the move is aimed at improving access to healthcare in hard-to-reach areas and ensure that residents in rural communities have access to healthcare services at all times, including during emergencies.

He said, “we are embarking on a system to improve our primary healthcare where we are identifying certain health centres that are located in specific geographical areas… as a hub where they will run for 24 hours and then the CHPS compound will serve as referral centres so that in that community, anytime of the day there is a place that you know you can get care.”

He said the service will scale about 400 communities very soon as it kick-starts the policy. He said, “we will scale them up slowly and ensure that all communities are covered in such a way that we don’t have to rush to the district hospitals which may be far after the normal working hours.

“We hope to scale about 400 of them within the short term to ensure that these places are providing care.”


Reporting by Irene Pomaa Kumi in the Ashanti Region


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