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Ghanaian Vaccination Campaign Hopes To Prevent Up To 14,000 Child Deaths

In a Huffington Post Blog opinion piece, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), describes watching the suffering of an infant with severe pneumonia and his parents while in Ghana on Thursday, writing that the experience was “a personal reminder as to why our work to prevent disease is so perilous, and why disease control so promising in Africa.” Noting that last year in Ghana, “approximately 50,000 young children — nearly seven out of every 100 — died before their fifth birthday,” Levine adds, “I also saw the promise of prevention in Ghana,” with the launch of an immunization campaign to provide both pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines. With support from the GAVI Alliance, Ghana is the first country in Africa to introduce two new vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhea at the same time,” he notes.

“Together these deadly conditions claimed the lives of nearly 10,000 Ghanaian children last year, or about 20 percent of the child deaths overall,” Levine writes, adding that IVAC has “projected that by scaling up these new vaccines, Ghana can prevent 14,000 child deaths and 1.4 million illnesses in the decade ahead, and avert more than $300 million in economic losses in the process.” He concludes, “My work requires me to know these statistics chapter and verse. But today, seeing [the boy] and his father imploring him to stay alive, I’m reminded that the most important benefit for Ghanaian families from this day is simply this — the chance to celebrate more fifth birthday parties” (4/26).