By Flavia Nassaka
The Ministry of Health together with development partners have earmarked Shs33.9 billion to finance a three day mass immunization exercise due to start on Oct 03.
The Acting Manager of Uganda National Expanded Programme for Immunization (UNEPI), Dr. Henry Luzze said in the three day countrywide exercise, children of 6 months to five years of age will be immunized but warned that this shouldn’t replace the routine immunization that takes place at different health facilities.
While Uganda targets 11 diseases for immunization, measles has been the main focus because it’s one of the top five causes of vaccine preventable deaths in the world and also one of the most contagious diseases whereby 90% of those who come into contact with the virus get affected.
Luzze said to interrupt transmission, at least 95% of the population must be immune to the disease and that one dose is not enough to achieve this immunity.
Speaking to journalists on Oct 01, Dr. Sarah Opendi, the State Minister for primary Health Care said that vaccination is key in the reduction of child mortality and that it’s one of the key strategies put in place for Uganda to achieve Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 which stands for reducing child mortality and consequently Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 for ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.
In addition to the measles vaccine, children will also receive the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) in the exercise that targets 6,929,680 children.
Given the continued risk of polio outbreaks due to importation from high risk areas, children from the 23 high risk districts of Adjumani, Kasese, Mbarara, Kampala, Rakai, Arua, Nwoya, Gulu, Wakiso and Ntoroko among others will also be provided with the oral polio vaccine under this exercise scheduled to end on Oct 05.
However, Dr. Luzze said of recent, Rubella (German measles), a disease with similar symptoms of fever and a rash has been common in Kampala and neighboring areas. He said this is usually mild and can disappear in a few days after infection.
The country has made progress in child immunization for instance DPT3 – vaccine to prevent diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus coverage has been increased from 52% in 2012 to 97% currently.