Mr Charles Agbeve, the Member of Parliament for Agortime Ziofe, and a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health has called on stakeholders, especially political leadership, to support efforts to attain herd immunity against the coronavirus.
He said the Nation was at risk of uncontrolled infections in areas with low vaccination rates, notably rural communities, and that political entities should come on board to help address misinformation and misconception challenging the vaccination drive.
The MP was addressing a stakeholder and media engagement with Members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health in Ho.
He said political parties, which have a huge influence in the communities, should consider their roles in the all-important drive, and help free rural communities from the shackles of misinformation.
“Political communication is very key, and we are calling on political parties to take a keen interest in the vaccination campaign. Political leaders should speak about it,” Mr Agbeve stated while calling for the empowerment of the major stakeholders in community engagement, including the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).
The MP said vaccine wastage through hesitancy cost the Nation tens of millions of dollars, and that the Committee “considered the issues seriously”, hence the nationwide stakeholder engagements on the subject.
He said people must consider Government’s efforts at herd immunity amid the scarcity of resources, and make the most of the free vaccination campaigns.
“We are pleading with the people, that this is the only time you can get it free. Take it and protect yourselves, your families and your community”.
The MP commended the efforts of the various partners of the vaccine promotion, which included coalitions of NGOs both local and international.
The Health Service reported that the Volta Region continued to sit at the bottom of the vaccination league table, with some one million of its population yet to receive a single dose, while the fully vaccinated constituted 17.5 percent of the 1.3 million targeted for herd immunity.
Mr Emmanuel Bonsu, the Regional Coordinator of the Extended Programme on Immunisation, said 42 percent of the 1.9 million vaccine doses allotted to the Region had gone waste and counted misinformation, low-risk perception, and open threats from the community members as major causes of the “high level of hesitancy”.
He said risk communication would be increased, while district-level stakeholder engagements would be enhanced to boost patronage of routine vaccinations.
Mr Bonsu said the Region had benefited from four rounds of routine vaccination programmes and that the exercise would be sustained at all health facilities.
Dr Senanu Djokoto, the Acting Regional Director of Health Services, said the Service was all out in addressing the challenges.
“We ought to be ready and deal with it or it derails our efforts”, he stated and called for the consideration of the lurking pandemic of non-communicable diseases, which would overrun immune systems weakened from covid.
Dr Djokoto said the race for herd immunity required a holistic approach, and, therefore, commended the involvement of the Parliamentary committee.
Present at the engagement were traditional and religious leaders, nonprofits, and heads of various agencies and departments tied to the vaccination campaigns.
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