The West Africa nation of Ghana has formally adopted the Inactive Polio Vaccine (IPV) as the routine agent of immunization against polio for children under 5 years of age.

The IPV has replaced the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) which has been used as the mainline protective and treatment agent in Africa and the rest of the developing world. Although more expensive by procurement standards, the IPV is considered much safer and more effective than the OPV.

Map of Ghana/CIA

In a statement, the Government of Ghana said the launch of the IPV programme was held on June 5 in the New Juaben Municipality. It was attended by the heads of regional and national health departments, medical superintendents, health staff and nursing mothers.

“The introduction of the vaccine to children under 5 years (of age), specifically children from 14 weeks of age after birth to one and a half years, is to curtail and prevent the polio virus from spreading in Ghana and the region,” the statement said.

New Juaben Municipal Health Coordinating Director Musa Yaya Froko said all nursing mothers should present their children, from age 14 weeks, to local clinics for immunization.

The programme, which also immunizes the children against pneumonia, began on June 1. Health officials noted that preventable childhood diseases, such as polio, continued to claim lives in the area.

The IPV will be distributed to all hospitals, clinics and community health centres. It will also be administered during outreach programs by medical experts who have just been trained to implement the exercise.

Poor sanitation and the lack of effective and regular vaccination coverage were identified among contributory factors to the high polio incidence and mortality rates in municipalities across Ghana.