Asokore Mampong: Fight against polio impeded by lack of credible data

Lifestyle

The absence of healthcare facilities at Asokore Mampong Municipality in the Ashanti Region makes it almost impossible for health personnel to access data for informed decisions on disease control.

Health authorities say inaccurate data renders them incapable of diagnosis of the diseases in children and hinders the formulation of an action plan to protect children from polio and other viral diseases.

At the National Polio Day commemoration durbar at Asawasi, Family Health Director at Ghana Health Service, Dr. Patrick Aboagye, indicated that Ghana has made significant strides in the eradication of poliomyelitis although the country is yet to declared polio-free.

Ghana has not recorded any case of polio since 2008, however, until poliovirus is eradicated from the three remaining polio-endemic countries, that is Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, all countries including Ghana remain at risk of importing of polio, according to health officials.

Dr Aboagye lauds the National Immunisation Day Campaign for Ghana’s progress.

Vaccination has been described as one of the greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century and is widely seen as a worthwhile and cost-effective public health measure

According to the World Health Organisation, more than 3 million child deaths worldwide are said to be prevented each year through vaccination.

Despite these huge benefits, childhood vaccination programmes face serious challenges including low and stagnant coverage levels, underutilisation of vaccine services, inadequate sustainable financing and misleading information on vaccination and its effects.

Dr Aboagye concedes there is room for improvement to totally rid the country of wild poliomyelitis disease to merit World Health Organisation declaration.

In Ghana, the overarching role of the community members in sustaining and consolidating Ghana’s gains cannot be underestimated.

Asokore Mampong Municipal is one of the seven national Community Health Workers (CHW) study sites where these CHWs are trained and equipped with mobile phones together with their supervisors to provide health promotion and education to the doorsteps of the people.

The municipality was selected for this year’s world polio celebration in Ashanti Region because the municipality is densely populated with so many children, amid under-resourced health directorate, making it difficult for health to meet immunisation targets.

Municipal Chief Executive, Alidu Seidu, laments the absence of a government health facility in the municipality accounts for these healthcare challenges.

“It is worrying that we have no public health facilities in the district. We are working to get one to improve health care delivery”, he said.

Meanwhile, One Million Community Health Workers Campaign of the Millennium Promise Ghana has developed a mobile device to aid data collection.

Country Director, Nathaniel Ebo Sarko, believes the technology will facilitate Ghana’s determination to achieve polio-free status.

“We are again focusing on using mobile technologies to enhance healthcare delivery in the country and Asokore Mampong is one of our pilot sites. We will together with other partners support this municipality to greatly improve on all of its health indicators,” he said.

Health officials believe polio eradication creates the opportunity for addressing other health needs.

“As we are this close to ending polio, we need to deploy our best assets and capabilities such as ICT based solutions for rapid and targeted response and follow up”, Mr Sarko said.

The partnership between One Millennium Community Health Workers Campaign Of Millennium Promise Alliance Ghana, the Ghana National Polio-Plus Committee of Rotary International, the Ghana Health Service and the Youth Employment Agency presents a formidable and a unique opportunity to consolidate the gains of the world polio eradication campaign whilst engineering a sustainable community activation with a robust national level response system.

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