Immunization

UNICEF works with partners in Ghana to protect every child from vaccine-preventable diseases

A child receiving a dose of vitamin A in the village of Kekereke in the Birim Central District of the Eastern Region of Ghana on 5 June 2013, during a National Immunization Days (NID) polio eradication campaign.
UNICEF/UN328480/QUARMYNE

Challenge

Timely vaccination of children is a proven method for saving lives from vaccine-preventable diseases. It can also help attain some targets like the Sustainable Development Goal 3, which aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all.

Vaccines save lives

In Ghana, the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) has helped reduce infant mortality. There has also been a significant fall in morbidity rates of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and poliomyelitis. For example, since 2003, there has been no death caused by measles, while in 2011, Ghana was certified as having attained elimination status for maternal and neonatal tetanus.

However, many children, especially those who live in inner cities and dense parts of urban areas and some in hard-to-reach areas have not been reached and are exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases at an early age.

Solution

The Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) has helped reduce infant mortality.  In 2011, Ghana was certified as having attained elimination status for maternal and neonatal tetanus.

Sufficient, well-functioning and well-maintained cold chain equipment plays a vital role in the delivery of quality and accessible immunization services. Cold chain equipment will assume a more important role as large volumes of vaccines are needed for more people and as more expensive vaccines are introduced into routine immunization systems.

A child gets vaccinated against measles at the Elmina Urban hospital in Elmina, Ghana on Tuesday November 9, 2010.
UNICEF/UN781482/ASSELIN
A child gets vaccinated against measles at the Elmina Urban hospital in Elmina, Ghana on Tuesday November 9, 2010.

In order to achieve improved coverage of immunization and reduction of child mortality, four supply chain elements are essential - there must be skilled and competent supply chain managers, efficient data to aid planning and decision-making, and efficient design of the distribution system of vaccines and cold chain equipment and ensuring a continuous process of improvement over time.

With increased support,  nine children out of ten will be immunized by 2022. 

Emelia Kakarba retrieving vaccines from a fridge at a Reproductive and Child Health facility in Savelugu in the Northern Region of Ghana on 26 May 2015.
UNICEF/UN685634/QUARMYNE
Emelia Kakarba retrieving vaccines from a fridge (cold chain equipment) at a Reproductive and Child Health facility in Savelugu in the Northern Region of Ghana on 26 May 2015.