Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Health Ministry has dispatched 171,400 doses of the oral cholera vaccine to Nebbi District for a mass vaccination campaign targeting six high risk sub counties.
Dr. Jakor Oryema, the Nebbi District Health Officer, says Nebbi district is a hot spot for cholera outbreaks because of its location near the Albert Nile that is characterised with poor sanitation and its proximity to the Democratic Republic of Congo where the disease originates from most of the time.
According to Health Ministry, the mass vaccination campaign targets Nyaravur, Nebbi, Parombo, Akworo, Erussi Sub counties and Nebbi municipality, which are considered high risk arrears.
In 2017, 14 cases of cholera were confirmed in Nyaravur Sub County but were contained through the joint intervention of the Health Ministry and World Health Organization-WHO.
According to Dr. Oryema, the mass cholera vaccination campaign targets people from 1 year and above. He says under the campaign they will also install chlorine dispensers at landing sites, which are prune to cholera to provide clean and safe water to residents.
Dr. Charles Olaro, the Director Clinical Services in the Health Ministry, says the vaccination campaign is meant to supplement ongoing efforts to combat cholera outbreaks in the area.
He explains that despite the increased awareness about the disease, many people in the targeted areas are still slow in terms of adapting behavioral change messages.
Geoffrey Anecho Okello, the Nebbi district LC 5 chairman, says the area is prune to cholera outbreaks because of inadequate human and financial resources to tackle the problem.
“We don’t need to run away from the point. What I know is that Nebbi currently has limited staff and financial resources. Government and other partners should be alert because what will we do in case of the outbreak,” he asked.
The Nyaravur Sub County Chief, Festo Thugitho, says the local population has for long attached cholera to religious and spiritual beliefs.
“Some people have had misplaced assumptions that modern medicines leads to social rejection, poverty, strange sicknesses and many other funny beliefs. We kindly ask you this time to embrace this exercise. It’s good for you”, he told locals during the vaccination exercise in Pariema village, Mbaro East parish Nyaravur Sub County this morning.
Betty Irwasi, the Immunization Team leader in the Health Ministry advised residents to maintain proper hygiene to combat the disease.
WHO estimates that an average of about 11,000 cholera cases occur in Uganda each year with approximately 61-182 deaths.
Majority of these cases (81%) occur in a relatively small number of districts comprising just 24% of Uganda’s total population.
These districts include rural areas bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Kenya as well as the slums of Kampala city.
Cholera presents with vomiting, sudden diarrhea, loss of body fluids, which eventually leads to dehydration and nausea.
It may lead to death if left untreated early.