Some mothers and care-givers in the Krachi West District of the Oti Region are relieved with the RTSS vaccine.
While an assessment of the vaccine’s impact on malaria-related illness and death is still being assessed, the perception among some parents in the district is that it spared their children from malaria, thus allowing them enough time for socio-economic activities.
They explained that, their babies and infants up to two years that are on the vaccine no longer fall sick of malaria.
Edward A. Ken-Zorre was in the Krachi West District to assess the vaccine piloting in the district and filed this report.
It was a busy morning at the Ntewusae CHPS center in the Krachi West District where several mothers had turned up with their children for what’s popularly referred to as weighing.
One of such mothers is Abigail Bour, a dressmaker who said her daughter, Rebecca Donkor, who is one year old, had not had malaria so far and this had given her enough time to sew for clients and also meet timelines.
Abigail’s daughter has taken three doses of the RTSS and according to her, her two other children were always diagnosed with malaria.
“As for Rebecca, when I’m coming to the clinic I’m coming for weighing. She is not like her two elder brothers and maybe because of the malaria vaccine she took and also that we now sleep under a net, that was given to me here at the clinic” she explained.
Madam Bour is not the only mother with a testimony, Nablemadu Gifty, another nursing mother, says her daughter, Portia has also not been diagnosed with malaria since taking her first dose when she was just 6 months.
She explained that her one-year-old daughter had not also had any side effects or complications resulting from the RTSS vaccine.
“It’s only when they inject her and she cries and her body will be hot and that is normal for all the vaccination she takes” Nablemadu Gifty narrated.
The malaria vaccine which has been rolled out in some districts in Ghana is the first and only vaccine to reduce malaria cases in young children in Africa, the population most affected by the disease.
The Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP) coordinated and supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) led to the rollout of the malaria vaccine in 3 countries in Africa; Ghana, Kenya and Malawi through country-led routine immunization.
Medical Superintendent at the Krachi West District Hospital Dr. Theophilus Amoatey believes the RTSS vaccine has been helpful, along with other interventions, in reducing child mortality resulting from malaria in the hospital since the start of the immunization in the district.
He said the hospital has seen a reduction in the number of malaria cases at the OPD with no recorded child deaths from the disease.
“Before the vaccine, malaria has always been our number one case at the OPD especially children under-five, but in 2020 we saw a decline in the cases of malaria and it has become our third case at the OPD”
Ghana is among the 15 highest burdened malaria countries in the world with three per cent of global malaria cases and deaths.
The country reported the highest increase in absolute case numbers, (500,000 new cases) from 2017 to 2018, which represented a five per cent increase compared to 2017 figures (from 213 to 224 per 1000 of the population at risk).
But this may change, as statistics at the Krachi West District seem to be pointing in this direction.
Under the 2020-year under review OPD malaria cases in the district decreased from 23,452 in 2019 to 16, 761 in 2020.
District Director of the Ghana Health Service at the Krachi West District, Victor Ahiaba says OPD malaria cases for children under five also reduced from 7, 319 in 2019 to 5, 087 in 2020, a period the vaccine was introduced in the district.
“Before the introduction of the vaccine, we embarked on a vigorous education campaign across the district so we were able to reach our target of getting 84% of the children for the first dose and the third dose we had 78% as at now” he narrated.
Story by: Edward A. Ken-Zorre