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Low uptake of Hepatitis B vaccines, screening in Masaka

Man getting vaccinated

Masaka, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Hepatitis B screening and vaccination service providers have registered a low uptake in Masaka district.

Agnes Kabahiire, the Assistant District Health Officer in charge of Family Planning and Maternal Health, indicates that despite the availability of free screening and vaccination services at the different health facilities, the demand for the services remains law as per the preferred target.

The Ministry of Health recommends that all persons above 20 years of age, should know their Hepatitis B Serostatus and enrolled in treatment if found positive, and if found negative, to seek vaccination as a safeguard against liver disease.

According to Kabahiire, the uptake of both Hepatitis B testing and vaccination services in Masaka district is below 50 percent of all eligible persons, which is by far below the preferred target of at least 90 percent.

She explains that the district’s service delivery points including Health Centers III and above are still stuck with testing kits and vaccines, as the targeted population fails to show up for the services.

She warns that the disease may become endemic among the population should they continue remaining reluctant of seeking the available critical prevention and treatment interventions.

He appeals to the community to include Hepatitis B screening and vaccination on their priority list of health services as they do to other diseases.

According to the 2016-17 Uganda Population-based HIV Impact Assessment serosurvey-UPHIA, the Hepatitis B prevalence in the central region where Masaka district lies was found at 4.3 percent among Uganda adults.

The deadly liver disease which can be spread through sexual fluids and blood was found to have high incidents among the island communities.

Kabahiire says the district health team has considered tagging Hepatitis B screening and vaccination along with other common services delivered at Health Centers, as one of the ways to increase demands.

Doctor Felix Kawooya, of the National Hepatitis B control program at the Ministry of Health, indicates that as a remedy, they have embarked on massive public sensitization towards Hepatitis B, such that the community can appreciate the realities and dangers that present with the disease.

He indicates that besides the different media platforms to communicate, the ministry is also engaging all health workers to ensure that they can also encourage the public to embrace the service; for purposes of meeting the national target of eliminating the disease by 2030.

In 2020, the Ministry of Health launched free Hepatitis B vaccination among eligible adults to cater for people who missed out on the opportunity before the service was included in the routine children’s immunization chart in 2002.

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