The Ghana National PolioPlus Committee of the Rotary International has entered into a partnership agreement with the One Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) Campaign of Millennium Promise (MPA) to embark on a nationwide polio vaccination exercise.
The two, on Monday, September 17, 2018, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to that effect.
The deal will see the duo commit to the numerous activities they have agreed upon to end the dreaded polio disease from the West African country.
Per the dictates of the MoU, 1mCHWs Campaign of MPA and the Ghana National PolioPlus Committee of Rotary International will leverage on their respective strengths to improve routine immunisation in Ghana in the month of October 2018.
The partnership builds on a similar collaboration in October 2017.
Immunisation against preventable diseases such as neonatal tetanus, polio, measles, pneumonia and diarrhoea have contributed to reduced under-five mortality in Ghana as preventable deaths have been averted.
For example, since 2003, no child has died from measles in Ghana and the country has officially not recorded a polio case since 2008.
The One Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) Campaign has since 2015 been providing technical support to the Government of Ghana in the training, deployment and management of 20,000 Community Health Workers (CHWs) and 1,000 eHealth Technical Assistants (eTAs) to support Ghana’s Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) programme for improved health.
The CHWs electronically register households, follow-up on pregnant women and children under five years, provide alerts on defaulters of immunization and antenatal visits for improved health. They (CHWs) are therefore a great resource to conduct disease surveillance, trace defaulters, and detect emerging or resurging diseases before they reach alarming proportions.
The CHWs also have an added advantage as they operate directly under the Ghana Health Service structure – the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) system.
So far, the CHWs module has proven to be the best ever module run by the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) with an excellent exit strategy that has seen several numbers of young men and women gain admission into professional nursing training institutions.
The exit strategy was developed in partnership with MPA and its stakeholders.
As part of the collaboration, MPA will undertake Social Mobilization and Routine Immunization Campaigns by working with key healthcare stakeholders such as chiefs and opinion leaders, religious leaders, community health management committees (CHMCs), school management committees (SMCs) as entry points to educate community members on the benefits of routine immunization.
During the immunization week, the CHWs will embark on home visits to educate households especially parents/guardians of children under 5years to garner full participation in the immunization exercise.
MPA will also support CHWs to undertake home visiting to educate households on benefits of immunization, monitor project activities and ensure comprehensive reporting.
Chief Nat Ebo Nsarko, the Country Director of Millennium Promise Alliance commenting on the partnership deal, stated that his outfit will train and equip the frontline health workers with custom built, GPS– enabled smart phones and tablets to electronically register children under 5 in the respective households including GPS location and immunization status.
“The eHealth tools will help deploy a targeted response that better identifies and reaches populations and locations with high numbers of children who are typically left out of immunization. The eHealth application guides immunisation, defaulter tracing and tracking, as well as real-time data flow for prompt decision making. This will promote efficient use of resources for maximum impact”, he noted.
The project, he added, will target some communities in all the ten regions across the country.
The Chair of the Ghana National PolioPlus Committee, Madam Theresa Osei Tutu also commenting on the partnership deal stated that Rotary Clubs across the country will be engaged to lead the exercises in the target localities.
What is there to know about Polio
Polio is a contagious viral illness that in its most severe form causes nerve injury leading to paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death.
Today, despite a worldwide effort to wipe out polio, poliovirus continues to affect children and adults in parts of Asia and Africa.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises taking precautions to protect yourself from polio if you’re traveling anywhere there’s a risk of polio.
Adults who have been vaccinated who plan to travel to an area where polio is occurring should receive a booster dose of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV). Immunity after a booster lasts a lifetime.
Although polio can cause paralysis and death, the majority of people who are infected with the virus don’t get sick and aren’t aware they’ve been infected.
Some people who develop symptoms from the poliovirus contract a type of polio that doesn’t lead to paralysis (abortive polio). This usually causes the same mild, flu-like signs and symptoms typical of other viral illnesses.
Signs and symptoms, which can last up to 10 days, include:
- Sore throat
- Back pain or stiffness
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Pain or stiffness in the arms or legs
- Muscle weakness or tenderness
This most serious form of the disease is rare. Initial signs and symptoms of paralytic polio, such as fever and headache, often mimic those of nonparalytic polio. Within a week, however, other signs and symptoms appear, including:
- Loss of reflexes
- Severe muscle aches or weakness
- Loose and floppy limbs (flaccid paralysis)
Post-polio syndrome is a cluster of disabling signs and symptoms that affect some people years after having polio. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Progressive muscle or joint weakness and pain
- Muscle wasting (atrophy)
- Breathing or swallowing problems
- Sleep-related breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea
- Decreased tolerance of cold temperatures
When to see a doctor
Check with your doctor for polio vaccination recommendations before traveling to a part of the world where polio still occurs naturally or where oral polio vaccine (OPV) is used, such as Central and South America, Africa and Asia.
Additionally, call your doctor if:
- Your child hasn’t completed the vaccine series
- Your child has an allergic reaction to the polio vaccine
- Your child has problems other than a mild redness or soreness at the vaccine injection site
- You had polio years ago and are now having unexplained weakness and fatigue
Poliovirus can be transmitted through direct contact with someone infected with the virus or, less commonly, through contaminated food and water. People carrying the poliovirus can spread the virus for weeks in their feces. People who have the virus but don’t have symptoms can pass the virus to others.
Polio mainly affects children younger than 5. However, anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated is at risk of developing the disease.
Paralytic polio can lead to temporary or permanent muscle paralysis, disability, bone deformities and death.
The most effective way to prevent polio is vaccination.
Most children in the United States receive four doses of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) at the following ages:
- Two months
- Four months
- Between 6 and 18 months
- Between ages 4 and 6 when children are just entering school
IPV is safe for people with weakened immune systems, although it’s not certain just how protective the vaccine is in cases of severe immune deficiency. Common side effects are pain and redness at the injection site.
Allergic reaction to the vaccine
IPV can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Because the vaccine contains trace amounts of the antibiotics streptomycin, polymyxin B and neomycin, it shouldn’t be given to anyone who’s reacted to these medications.
Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction usually occur within minutes to a few hours after the shot. Watch for:
- Difficulty breathing
- Hoarseness or wheezing
- Rapid heart rate
If you or your child has an allergic reaction after any shot, get medical help immediately.
Adults aren’t routinely vaccinated against polio because most are already immune, and the chances of contracting polio are minimal. However, certain adults at high risk of polio who have had a primary vaccination series with either IPV or the oral polio vaccine (OPV) should receive a single booster shot of IPV.
A single booster dose of IPV lasts a lifetime. Adults at risk include those who are traveling to parts of the world where polio still occurs or those who care for people who have polio.
If you’re unvaccinated or your vaccination status is undocumented, get a series of primary polio vaccination shots — two doses of IPV at four- to eight-week intervals and a third dose six to 12 months after the second dose.