Uganda is set to immunise about eight million children below the age of five during the polio vaccination campaign which kicks off today.
While speaking to journalists after flagging off the immunisation equipment at Kololo airstrip, the Minister for Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, said the exercise would be conducted door-to-door countrywide from January 14 to 16.
“Our health workers will reach out to different families and I ask the parents and health workers to ensure that we finish this campaign which has been postponed for quite a while. There is a big number of unvaccinated and under vaccinated children under five years,” she said.
About Covid-19, Dr Aceng said: “Earlier some health facilities had postponed the Covid-19 vaccination exercises but now health workers will not run outreach services for Covid-19. But Covid vaccination will continue to run at health facilities.”
The Unicef representative in Uganda, Dr Mohamed El Munir A. Safieldin, said one of Uganda’s greatest achievements over the past 20 years has been the ability to keep a huge number of children alive.
He added that back in 2000, Uganda’s mortality rate for children under five years was 151 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Mr Munir said: “That has changed, by 2016, under-5years deaths had dropped by more than half, to around 64 deaths per 1,000 live births, still way too high, but a huge achievement in an extremely short time. And those achievements happened because of investment in Uganda’s health sector.
“Government of Uganda together with its partners improved water and sanitation, nutrition treatments, health data tracking, and maternal and neonatal care , while increasing investments in community –based outreach to give more children a healthy start.”
He added that protecting children against vaccine-preventable disease requires having the right quantities of vaccines at the right time.
Gavi, the vaccine alliance donated equipment worth $8.3 million, which include 1,311 solar-powered fridges, 124 on-grid fridges, five walk-in cold room mono-blocks and196 vaccine carriers.
Last year in August 2021, Uganda announced that there was a polio outbreak in the country after samples on faecal matter collected from Lubingi tested positive.
The Ministry of Health warned that it was the rare wild poliovirus type 2, whose vaccine was withdrawn from the country’s routine immunisation exercises in 2016.