The children have been under close monitoring by the Centre for possible diagnosis of malaria for the past two years.
The malaria vaccine, which is to protect the body against the disease, is first given to the children at age six months, then a dose is given a month later while the third and fourth doses are given at nine months and two years respectively.
Dr Patrick Ansah, the Head of Clinical Science Department of the NHRC, who disclosed this in an interview with journalists at Navrongo on the sidelines of the Centre’s Annual General and Scientific Review Meeting, said they had recruited another 4,000 children in the area for same purpose.
The Meeting was on the theme; “Shaping health policies in Ghana through quality health research; the story of NHRC, three decades on.”
“We enrolled them at the time they were taking the Expanded Programme Immunisation (EPI) vaccine and we have been following them for the past nine to ten months. As they take the vaccine, we visit them to look out for any adverse effects,” Dr Ansah said.
He said in looking out for the potency of the vaccine, the Centre would make a comparison between the vaccinated and non-vaccinated children, after which it would inform government about the safety of the vaccine.
Dr Ansah said the Centre was working in partnership with the Kintampo Health Research Centre, which had also introduced about 6,000 children to the vaccine, and indicated that Kenya and Malawi had equally introduced some children to it.
“Aside this one that the Research Centres are doing, we have the Ministry of Health deploying this vaccine in a few millions of children in other places. So hopefully, in the next three or four years, we will be able to come out with comprehensive information on whether the vaccine is really effective and very safe.”
Dr Ansah, also the Upper East Regional Chairman of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), said: “So far I can tell you that it is very safe, over 8,000 doses have been given in Navrongo alone and we have not recorded any major issue.”
He noted that even though the vaccine was the main programme the Centre was working on, there were other minor studies being undertaken adding that his outfit had completed studies on drugs that “would totally seal the doom of malaria in Ghana and the world at large.”