Claim: A member of the Communications team of the New Patriotic Party, Vera Wiredu, says across the world, there have been zero cases of measles and polio since 2003.
Verdict: This assertion is false. DUBAWA Ghana’s research shows that measles and polio cases continue to be recorded in various parts of the world, including Ghana.
Earlier this year, there were widespread reports of a scarcity of vaccines for childhood diseases such as measles and polio across health facilities nationwide.
Calls from various groups, including the Minority caucus in Parliament, were made on the government to treat the matter as a national emergency, considering that the vaccine shortage could lead to several newborn deaths.
A member of the communications team of the governing New Patriotic Party, Vera Wiredu, during a discussion on the subject on Accra-based GHOne TV, said the government was working hard to prevent the situation from escalating.
According to her, steps had already been taken to ensure the availability of vaccines in the country.
Whilst attempting to further defend and extricate the government from blame, she claimed that for nearly two decades, there had been no global cases of the two childhood killer diseases.
“The killer diseases are six. Now I’m told it is eight. Globally since 2003, there has never been any measles or polio outbreak until a week or so when we recorded some measle cases in the Northern Region,” she said on GHToday on GH One Television.
The show was live-streamed on the TV Station’s Facebook page, and Vera’s claim can be found between minutes 38:31 to 39:10.
Her claim appears to downplay the global prevalence of childhood killer diseases.
Various reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other reliable data sources point to thousands of measles cases being recorded annually across the globe.
For instance, a 2019 publication in the National Library of Medicine indicated that over 600,000 global measles cases were recorded between 2013 and 2017.
“Between Jan 1, 2013, and Dec 31, 2017, 634 139 measles cases were reported; 7850 (1%) cases were excluded because they did not provide the age at onset, so 626 289 were included in our analysis. 191 333 (31%) of these cases had unknown vaccination status,” the publication said.
“In 2018, there were more than 140,000 measles deaths globally, mostly among children under five,” the report indicated.
The publication added that measles was still common in many developing countries., particularly in Africa and Asia.
Further data from the WHO indicated that Ghana has been recording measle cases annually.
Regarding Polio, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative reports that Ghana recorded three cases in 2022.
“The Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Service has received a report of confirmed Poliomyelitis from the National Polio Laboratory in the sample from a two-year eight-month-old girl with Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP). She is from Andonyama in Chereponi sub-district of Chereponi district in the Northern Region,” Health Service said.
Evidently, it is not true that since 2003, there have been no global cases of Polio and measles.
What is the update on the vaccine situation in Ghana?
Earlier this month, the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health took delivery of measles vaccines, BCG vaccines and Oral Polio Vaccines.
“Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service received the first consignment of Measles vaccines, BCG vaccines and Oral Polio Vaccines. Distribution to various regions and facilities is underway. More vaccines expected in Ghana in the coming weeks from multiple sources,” the Information Ministry said.
The assertion by Ms Wiredu is false. Data from the World Health Organization and other institutions indicate that polio and measle cases continue to be recorded worldwide, including Ghana.