The Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and its partners, has began a second dose measles vaccination for children of 18 to 30 months.
This is to give children better protection and to reduce the incidence of death among them.
The programme, which has been integrated into the routine schedule of child immunisation, is aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4, which is to address infant mortality.
Ms Honesty Nunetu, Head of the Health Promotion Unit of the Regional Health Directorate, told the Ghana News Agency that Ghana had achieved high routine measles coverage of over 85 per cent with zero deaths recorded for the past nine years.
She said, however, the current measles vaccination schedule allowed susceptibility to piled up every four years, hence, the need for the second dose.
Mr Nunetu explained that despite the strides made in recording zero death, measles cases continued to rise with the year 2010 recording 692 children suffering from measles infection with 88 suspected cases and one confirmed from Greater Accra.
She said in 2011, 1744 cases of measles were reported nationwide, out of which 215 cases were recorded in the Greater Accra region with nine of them confirmed.
Ms Numetu noted that the current nationwide coverage of measles was 79 per cent, according to the Ghana’s Demographic and Health Survey Result.
She explained that more than 20 per cent of children was not protected against measles resulting in the introduction of the second dose.
Measles is a highly infectious viral disease, which has humans as the only reservoir. It has no cure and transmission is primarily from person to person, via aerosol via droplets with an average incubation period of 10-12 days.
Measles vaccine is given on the right upper arm with a new syringe and a needle for each child.
Symptoms of measles include fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite, redness of eye and a rash.
The rash usually last between 5 and 6 days and begins at the hairline, moves to the face and upper neck and proceeds down to the body.
Complications of measles could lead to death, lifelong disability, blindness, brain damage, pneumonia, malnutrition and deafness.
Ms Numetu noted that measles control has contributed to the reduction of under- five mortality from 111 per 1000 live births in 2008 and had given hope that the MDG 4 may be achieved in 2015.
She said: “If every child in Ghana receives measles vaccine at nine months of age, and second dose at 18 months, not only will there be no death to measles but there will be a drastic decrease in the number of measles incidence and thus reduce measles-related illness in the country.”
Mrs Numetu asked mothers, and care-givers to send their children of 18 months and above to any child welfare clinic for the second dose, which would be given in addition to Vitamin A and an insecticide treated bed net.