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Major cause of heart disease among children attributed to Rubella

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Majority of the children reporting at the Uganda Heart Institute with congenital heart disease is as a result of rubella viral disease.

Dr Alfred Driwale, the Programme Manager Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation – UNEPI at the Ministry of Health said 60% of the children acquired heart disease because of the fact that their mothers suffered from rubella while pregnant.

Rubella which is set to be put on the list of routinely immunized against diseases in Uganda shows symptoms similar to those of measles as the victim will develop a skin rash, inflamed eyes, fever, running nose, muscle pains and tender lymph nodes.

The biggest challenge with it, experts say children who get exposed to the disease while still in the womb will not only have defects on the brain, impaired sight and heart problems which are very expensive to correct.

At the Uganda Heart Institute, Dr John Omagino says a single operation for congenital heart disease costs about 20 million shillings.

Annually, the Institute’s figures show that 15,000 children are born with heart problems meaning that about 9,000 of these cases are associated with rubella.

The heart institute only handles about 1,000 such cases annually. Many of these, experts say never report for care and yet some arrive late and succumb to causes that would have been prevented with immunization.

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