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Gov’t turns to private health providers to salvage high vaccine stocks

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Over 30 private health facilities in Kampala and dozens others in the country side have expressed interest in offering COVID-19 vaccination, heeding to a call for help by the Ministry of Health (MOH) some weeks ago to salvage vaccines that are at a verge of expiry in stores with uptake recently slowing.

While the National Medical Stores (NMS) doesn’t reveal the exact number of vaccines in stores now, the country has since March 2021 when vaccination started acquired more than 45million doses of different vaccine brands both through donations and purchase. However, government has been adamant on involving private providers.

However now, private providers say they have been contacted to join in.

In a letter seen by URN, MOH asks city medical officers of Health and District Health Officers to accord private health providers any necessary support to get involved in vaccination.

Speaking at the Uganda Healthcare Federation Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, Executive Director Grace Kiwanuka Ssali said as the umbrella body, they have now embarked on conducting trainings of health workers in cities outside Kampala on things like maintaining the required cold chain for COVID-19 vaccines since some of them have unique requirements, different from vaccines offered in routine immunization.

She says they came up with a criteria for eligibility of private health providers where they are initially considering those that are able to report and link their immunization data to the information system manned at the ministry of health.

According to Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr. Diana Atwine, they are struggling to have 70% of the priority groups vaccinated even as the country has enough stocks to cover everybody.

She says the country has made significant progress where 72% of the target population have received their first jab but many are reluctant to seek second doses and boosters due to the recent complacency that came with the reduction in new infections and death from the viral respiratory disease.

As of yesterday, only 49% of the initial target that comprises health workers, elderly, security personnel and other persons above 18 years of age were estimated to have completed their vaccination.

Atwine notes that seventy one districts across the country have not yet reached 50% vaccination levels and this is mostly around the ten newly created cities.

Dr. Richard Lukandwa, the Director Medipal International Hospital says they have already applied and will soon start offering the service for free.



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