By Ronald Musoke
Uganda’s Ministry of Health has said a total of 2,2469,982 children were vaccinated against Polio in the just concluded house to house polio vaccination campaign that was recently conducted in 37 high risk districts in the country.
The campaign has been deemed successful since it registered a 101% coverage exceeding the total number of 2,246,983 children that were originally targeted.
The exercise, conducted between October 20—22, reached out to every child under the age of five especially those who missed the routine immunization exercise in the selected districts. The exercise targeted children whose parents could not take them to health facilities or community outreaches due to various reasons.
Under the campaign, the Health Ministry, with support from the UN’s World Health Organization and UNICEF, worked closely with village local councils and Village Health Teams to register children and administer the vaccines.
The districts covered during the nationwide exercise included Abim, Amudat, Bududa, Bugiri, Buikwe, Bukwo, Bulambuli, Bundibugyo, Busia, Buvuma, Iganga, Isingiro, Jinja, Kaabong, Kabale, Kabalore, Kamwenge, Kanungu, Kapchorwa, Kasese, Kisoro, Kotido, Kween, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojjo, Manafwa, Mayuge, Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Namayingo, Napak, Ntoroko, Ntungamo, Rubirizi, Rukungiri, Sironko and Tororo.
According to a statement signed by the Director General of Health Services, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the best performing districts were Bulambuli, Sironko, Manafwa, Buvuma, Busia, Bugiri, Iganga, Isingiro, Kyegegwa, Namayingo, and Tororo registering over 120% coverage.
There were however, many challenges faced especially in the eastern districts where some cultural and religious practices barred children from receiving vaccination.
Vaccination is one of the key strategies that the Ministry of Health is implementing in its roadmap to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals four and five—the reduction of child mortality by two thirds and the reduction of maternal mortality rate respectively.
The Ministry notes that failure to eradicate polio allows for resurgence leading to death and disablement of thousands of children.
“Our shared goal is that every child in Uganda should complete the recommended vaccinations by the end of their first year of life,” the statement reads in part.
The Ministry of Health recommends parents and caretakers to continuously take their children to health facilities and community outreaches for routine vaccination against all childhood killer diseases till they complete the recommended immunization schedule.