Health workers alarmed as more children contract TB
Health workers in the capital have expressed worry over the risk of many newborns contracting tuberculosis as the syringes needed for immunizing babies with the Bacillus Calmette- Guérin (BCG) vaccines have run out for over a year.
Currently four vaccines for the immunization of children against preventable childhood diseases have been in short supply in various health facilities.
Many nursing mothers are equally worried over the development.
GHOne TV’s Evelyn Araba Aidoo visited some health facilities in Accra and has come through with this report.
This is a six weeks old baby boy brought to the reproductive and child health unit at the Greater Accra regional hospital to receive shots of the polio vaccine, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), pentaValent vaccine and Rota virus vaccine but was unfortunately given only the Pentavalent vaccine as the other vaccines have been in short supply in the country for some time now.
His mother, Selina who is a first time mum is worried about the effects on her child, especially as the BCG, given at birth is to prevent children from contracting tuberculosis.
“My son is due to be injected in both legs but an injection meant for one of his legs is unavailable and this is likely going to defeat the efficacy of the vaccine his system. This development is very worrying“
New mom Selina is not the only one frightened over her baby’s health risk.
Dorcas Yeboah had also journeyed from Teshie to Ridge to get her newborn immunized only to find out she still have to come back to check on the availability of the vaccines as she has been doing for several weeks now .
“I stay far away but on getting to the hospital I was told I can only get a vaccine for one of his legs which means I have to visit other hospitals in search for the other one which is very stressful.”
Many mothers are frustrated over the matter.
“On my arrival, I was told there’s vaccine shortage so I went to Kaneshie polyclinic for just a shot and from there visited another hospital in search for the second shot which is very frustrating.
Another worried also said “I do understand that anything at all can come up after delivery”
“As a new mum I just hope and pray that the vaccines come in time for the injections to take place soon as possible.”
The principal nursing officer at the reproductive and child health unit of the greater Accra Regional hospital, Hilda Akorfa Kumako, laments the effects of not vaccinating children at birth with BCG, fearing the risk of many children contracting tuberculosis due to the absence of syringes and other materials needed to administer the vaccine for over a year now.
She urged parents whose newborns have not received the BCG at birth and are over a year to take their babies for mantoux tests.
“In this case is either the mothers do a mantoux test to check as to whether the children have contacted the TB after not receiving the BCG vaccine after a year since birth, it is best is for them to do so. Again the children must not be exposed to a lot of people for the fact that you do not know who has a particular condition. Mothers must also eat a balanced diet so that the babies can get the immunity from the breastmilk” -Hilda Akorfa Kumako, PNO-Ridge
Again Hilda added that, if stakeholders do not ensure the availabaility of the vaccines soon, it would have dire consequences on many children’s health.
The chamber of pharmacy wants government to immediately look for avenues of securing the vaccines that are in short supply.
Chairman of the National Executive committee of the chamber, Harrison Abutiate is calling for local production of the vaccines.
“It is high time we have our own basic drugs for that matter simple vaccines like this kind for children so as to keep them healthy and alive.”-Harrison Abutiate, chairman, national executive council – chamber of pharmacy
The Ghana Health Service has however indicated that bottlenecks with the supply of vaccines in the country will be smoothened out in the next three weeks, but until that is sorted, many children’s health remain at risk.
Evelyn Araba Aidoo, reporting for GHOne News.