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Cholera vaccination underway in Moroto

FILE PHOTO: A health worker administering oral cholera vaccine to a child

Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Mass vaccination against Cholera has kicked off in Moroto district. The five-day exercise was rolled out yesterday morning by a joint team comprising the World Health Organization-WHO and the Ministry of Health to contain the spread of the acute diarrhoeal disease which spreads through the consumption of contaminated food and water.

Moroto District Health Officer Charles Onyang Omuudu says that the vaccination, the first of its kind in Moroto district is targeting 95,000 people aged 1 year and above in all the five sub-counties of the district in Karamoja sub-region. They will be given the first dose this week and a booster dose after two weeks.

Cholera was confirmed in Moroto district on May 12 by the acting District Health Officer Charles Onyang Omuudu after seven out of eight samples tested positive. The disease has so far claimed three lives and according to Omuudu, the cases have since escalated to 370.

Omuudu explains that the district engaged the Ministry of Health and WHO to stop the disease from spreading rapidly upon noticing that the treatment centre was overwhelmed.

The DHO has however warned the community against complacency advising that the public should continue practising good health behaviour that devours the spread of cholera in the community. He encouraged the community to always use latrines, drink safe water and practise good sanitation.

Common sources of cholera infections include raw or poorly cooked food, raw fruit and vegetables and other foods contaminated during preparation or storage and it mostly spreads rapidly in areas where sewage and drinking water supplies are inadequately treated.

Cholera can be prevented by drinking water that has been boiled or disinfected with chlorine or other suitable products and eating food that has been thoroughly cooked and is still hot when served. Cooked food that has been held at room temperature for several hours and served without being reheated can be a source of infection.

Moroto District Chairperson Andrew Napaja expressed hope that this will be a lasting solution to the outbreak. He said the district is planning an educational festival to teach the community about cholera prevention. He said a festival would be organized from village to district level such that the community is enlightened about how the disease is spread.

Several districts in Karamoja have sometimes registered cholera cases due to problems on clean water access and rampant open defecation. Of late several Non-Government Organizations have been giving out kits necessary for latrine construction to various rural and urban communities of Moroto following the outbreak.

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