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Health Ministry targets 2m children in house-to-house Polio immunization Campaign

By Ronald Musoke

Following an outbreak of polio in neighbouring Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and the potential risk facing Uganda, the Health ministry is to conduct a three-day ‘house-to-house’ Polio immunization campaign in 36 districts in Uganda.

The inoculation campaign is scheduled to run from Sept. 21—23, targeting 2,178,093 children below the age of five in the high risk selected districts, majority of which are along the Uganda border with Kenya and Somalia.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Health, the campaign is intended to reach out to every child especially those likely to have missed out on the routine vaccination programmes.

Ministry of Health statistics show that there are about 153,616 un-immunized and 258,580 under-immunized children in Uganda who are at risk of contracting the vaccine-preventable diseases.

Children are supposed to be fully immunized before their first birthday.

During the house to house campaign, health workers will move door to door to administer the Polio vaccine which is given by putting two drops in the child’s mouth.

The ministry has explained that the supplemental campaign worth Shs 8.8 billion does not, however, replace the routine immunization. Therefore, children who will miss out on the supplemental dose during the campaign will still go to the nearest health facility or outreach for their due routine Polio and other vaccines doses.

The three day campaign has been supported with funds from the government, UNICEF and Rotary International.

The high risk districts to benefit from this exercise include;  Amudat, Kotido, Moroto, Napak, Kaabong, Nakapiripirit, Kween, Bududa, Sironko, Manafwa, Bugiri, Buikwe, Bukwo, Kapchorwa, Bulambuli, Iganga, Tororo, Busia, Namayingo, Jinja and Buvuma in eastern Uganda.

In western Uganda, the targeted districts are Bundibugyo, Isingiro, Kabale, Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kanungu, Kasese, Kisoro, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, Ntoroko, Ntungamo, Rubirizi, and Rukungiri.

The ministry is therefore urging all mothers and caretakers to take their children to the nearest health centres and ensure that the children receive all the required vaccinations.

It has also appealed to communities in the affected districts to cooperate with the vaccinators and allow them to vaccinate their children under five years. The vaccines are safe and have been certified by the World Health Organization.

Polio is one the most deadly but immunizable diseases which affect the nerve cells in the brain or spinal cord, causing paralysis of muscles that control swallowing and breathing.  An infected child often finds difficulty in breathing, while the limbs and trunk also become paralyzed.

Currently the Government provides vaccines for nine immunizable diseases free of charge among which include; Measles, Diptheria, Whooping Cough, Tuberculosis, Meningitis, Polio, Pneumonia, Hepatitis B and Tetanus.

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