By Taddeo Bwambale
Uganda will next year introduce the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer and the Rota vaccine that protects children against diarrhoeal diseases, the health ministry has confirmed.
The two new vaccines will supplement the newly introduced Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) being rolled out to districts this month.
“Plans are underway to introduce the two vaccines into the routine immunisation schedule,” Sarah Opendi, the state minister for primary health said in a statement.
In Uganda, cervical cancer is the commonest from of cancer among women in Uganda and accounts for over 80% of female cases.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sex.
At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives.
Mass cervical cancer vaccination of young girls aged 9 and 15 across the country will start early 2015. A pilot phase conducted in 14 districts targeting girls between 9 and 10 years concluded in December last year.
Preparations to roll out the Rota Virus will also start in 2015, although mass vaccination of children against the virus will start in 2016.
Rota Virus is the leading cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children worldwide. The virus causes severe diarrhoea, often with vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. In babies and young children, it can lead to dehydration (loss of body fluids).
Globally, it causes more than a half a million deaths each year in children younger than 5 years of age, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Last week’s roll-out of the pneumonia vaccine is part of efforts to stem the Pneumonia is the second biggest killer of children under the age of five in Uganda, after malaria.
WHO estimates that pneumonia kills about 1.6 million children under the age of five annually and accounts for 18% of all deaths of children under the age of five.
The pneumonia vaccine has so far been distributed to 94 districts by the National Medical Stores and parents are encouraged to visit nearby health centres to immunize their children.