The continent of Africa has many countries that have struggled for decades with deadly diseases. High poverty rates and little access to clean water have made it difficult for people to stop the spread of these diseases or access vaccinations.
In sub-Saharan Africa, one in 11 children dies before the age of five because of diseases like pneumonia and malaria. Ghana is one country that is fighting for access to vaccinations. The hope is to someday eradicate disease in Ghana, and with the help of many organizations, Ghana is proving that this can be possible.
Although Africa is considered the poorest continent on Earth, Ghana’s poverty rate was cut in half from 1991 to 2012. This growth has paved the way for better access to extremely important healthcare and vaccinations for men, women and children.
Introduction of New Vaccines Lessens Threat of Disease in Ghana
In 2012, Ghana became the first African country to make the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines available. This is a giant step, as these vaccines will protect against two of the biggest killers in Ghana, pneumonia and diarrhea. UNICEF, along with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, have worked alongside and supported the Ghana Health Service in this launch, which made these vaccinations available in every health clinic in the country.
Although it is unusual to make two vaccines available simultaneously, the country has recognized the dire need for these treatments. Pneumonia is the deadliest disease in Africa and the leading cause of death of children on the continent. The sickness claims nearly 800,000 lives each year.
Ghana One of Three Countries to Test Malaria Vaccine
Along with being the first country in Africa to launch the aforementioned vaccines, Ghana will once again be making history later in 2018. The World Health Organization has selected Ghana, along with Kenya and Malawi, to be the testing sites for the world’s first malaria vaccine pilot. With about half of the world’s population at risk for this disease, this vaccine, along with the means of prevention that are already used, could save hundreds of thousands of lives.
In 2015 alone, there were nearly 215 million cases of malaria around the world. The malaria pilot program is being funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, the World Health Organization and many others. The first stage will cost nearly $50 million, but with the thousands of lives this vaccine could save, money is no object.
The fight to eradicate disease in Ghana is seeing incredible progress. Ghana is becoming a country that everyone, not just in Africa but all over the world, can look to when it comes to providing the healthcare and medications that so many are in need of.
Long known as a country that has struggled with poverty and a lack of resources, Ghana has shown that it is possible for any country to treat and prevent diseases on a national level. Ghana has and will continue to make these huge changes for its people.
– Allisa Rumreich