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Uganda’s house to house polio campaign targets 5.7 million children

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Up to 5.7million children under the age of five are expected to be immunized in a three-day house-to-house polio preventive vaccination campaign in 73 high risk districts of Uganda.

According to a Ministry of Health statement, the objective of the September 9-11 campaign is to vaccinate all children under five years of age whether previously immunized or not, with Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) drops in the mouth, and achieve at least 95% coverage for vaccination in the selected districts.

This supplemental campaign, however, does not replace the routine immunization schedule, the Ministry of Health stressed.

The mentioned districts, the Ministry of Health statement said, were selected based on the low routine immunization uptake, sub optimal polio surveillance indicators and areas hosting refugees. A total of 5,753,301 children are targeted.

This Sh7.3 billion Ministry of Health preventive polio immunization campaign  is supported with funds from Government of Uganda, World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

The selected high risk districts are: Adjumani, Agago, Alebtong, Amolatar, Amuru, Apac, Arua, Budaka, Bududa, Bugiri, Bukwo, Bulambuli, Buliisa, Bundibugyo, Busia, Butaleja, Buyende, Dokolo, Gulu, Hoima, Iganga, Isingiro, Jinja, Kaabong, Kabale, Kabarole, Kaliro, Kampala, Kamuli, Kamwenge, Kanungu, Kapchorwa, Kasese, Kibaale, Kibuku, Kiryandongo, Kisoro, Kitgum, Koboko, Kole, Kween, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, Lamwo, Lira, Luuka, Manafwa, Maracha, Masindi, Mayuge, Mbale, Moyo, Namayingo, Namatumba, Nebbi, Ntoroko, Ntungamo, Nwoya, Otuke, Oyam, Pader, Pallisa, Rakai, Rukungiri, Sironko, Tororo, Wakiso, Yumbe, Zombo, Kagadi, Kakumiro, Omoro and Rubanda.

Vaccination is one of the key strategies that the Government of Uganda is implementing in its roadmap to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal three, (SDG 3) which underlines the need for good health and well-being. Currently, the sector has made good progress in child immunization increasing from DPT3 coverage of 52% in 2012 to current coverage of 97%.

What is polio?

Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by the Polio Virus and spreads from person to person.

It affects the nerves in the brain or spinal cord, causing paralysis of muscles that control swallowing and breathing, hence a child gets difficulty in breathing. The limbs and legs become paralyzed leading to permanent disability.

LCs to help in sensitization campaign

The Ministry of Health said the campaign will also be an opportunity to sensitize communities on Acute Flaccid Paralysis, surveillance and at the same time identify and investigate any unreported suspected cases of polio.

“During this house-to-house campaign, the vaccination team comprising of one health worker, one Local Council (LC1) or VHT member will move door to door to administer the Polio vaccine which is given by putting two drops in the child’s house.”

“The Ministry of Health urges parents and caretakers to continuously take their children to health facilities and community outreaches for routine vaccination against all childhood immunisable killer diseases until they complete the recommended immunization schedule.”

Children should stay at home

Dr Tabley Bakyayita Basajjatebadiba – Asst. Commissioner Health Promotion and Education together with Dr Henry Luze of the Uganda National Expanded Program on Immunization (UNEPI) briefed the press last month on their readiness for the House to House programme.

“We dont have polio.  However, Uganda’s last case suspected to have come from Kenya was in 2010 and we are doing everything possible to prevent re-introduction following the new factors in the country,” said Dr Luze, referring to the huge influx of refugees in the last 6 months.

“Health workers will come to your home or place of work to vaccinate your children.”

POLIO:  Dr Tabley Bakyayita Basajjatebadiba and UNEPI’s Dr Luze brief last month in Kampala. PHOTO LOUIS JADWONG

He also reminded Ugandans that the Immunisation Act  2017 came into law two months back. It outlines penalties for parents who fail to have their children immunised.

Dr Basajjatebadiba stressed that all children should be taken for immunization five times before their first birthday to complete their required dose.

Uganda Immunisation Act 7 2017 by The Independent Magazine on Scribd

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