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Ghana launches two new life-saving vaccines

© UNICEF Ghana/2012/Logan
On April 26, Naomi Ofori holds her twins Runi and Reni, 6 weeks, who were among the first to get the newly introduced pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines at the launch ceremony in Accra, Ghana.

ACCRA, Ghana, 26 April 2012 – UNICEF Representative Iyabode Olusanmi today congratulated Ghana on becoming the first African country to introduce pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines at the same time.

She said the new vaccinations would tackle two of the leading killers of Ghanaian children – pneumonia and diarrhoea.

“Ghana is not only the first country in the region to introduce the highly anticipated rotavirus vaccine, but it is also the first to simultaneously introduce the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines into its immunization calendar,” she said.

“Ghana has already begun to inspire a new vision in West Africa and will hopefully influence other countries to adopt it.”

© UNICEF Ghana/2012/Logan
Dr. Iyabode Olusanmi, UNICEF Representative in Ghana, giving the first dose of rotavirus to baby Kadijah after the launch of the double vaccines in Accra.

Evelyn Amenu’s baby Kadijah Milku was one of the first children in Ghana to be vaccinated against the diseases. She was given her oral rotavirus dose by Dr. Olusanmi at the launch of the new vaccines at the Independence Square in Accra.

“It’s better to vaccinate your children before they become sick,” Mrs Amenu said.

It’s especially true in Ghana, where diarrhoea kills 9% of children under five, while pneumonia kills another 12%. The vaccines were introduced with the support of the GAVI Alliance.

“With the hard work and effort that has gone into this double launch, Ghana has established itself as a pioneer in the fight against pneumonia and diarrhoeal disease,” said GAVI CEO, Dr Seth Berkley, MD.

“Today’s simultaneous launch marks yet another ambitious and encouraging step to make life-saving vaccines available to the children who need them the most wherever they were born.”

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