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Lack of equipment delays Katakwi mass Hepatitis B vaccination

By Emmanuel Alomu

Added 4th August 2016 02:09 PM

Hepatitis B prevalence rate in some districts is over 20% a figure higher than the national HIV prevalence rate which hovers around 7%

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Two members of this family were found Hepatitis B positive in Omodoi sub county, Katakwi. Photo by Emmanuel Alomu

Hepatitis B prevalence rate in some districts is over 20% a figure higher than the national HIV prevalence rate which hovers around 7%

Lack of laboratory items has delayed the mass vaccination of people of Katakwi district against Hepatitis B. 

It is understood that the government through the National Medical Stores (NMS) in late June, 2016 delivered 71,000 doses of Hepatitis B vaccines worth 225 million shillings to the district. 

This was in response to an outbreak of Hepatitis B in which over 200 people were by then reported to have died from the disease in Katakwi District since January 2016. 

The vaccines received by the district chairperson, Walter Elakas Okiring, Usuk County MP, Peter Ogwang and the district woman MP, Violet Akurut Adome were brought together with test kits, gloves and a fridge for protecting the vaccines. 

The people who welcomed the government move to vaccinate them against the virus have remained in doubt and wondering why the exercise is taking long to start. 

Angella Akengo the female councillor representing Omodoi Sub County is worried that new infections of Hepatitis B will be realized due to the long time the district is taking to start the mass vaccination of people. 

Her other concern is that the vaccines might become spoilt if not preserved well in the fridge. 

“The communities are now asking us leaders where the said vaccination project has reached so far because they are eager to get the services,”Akengo said.

But Dr. Isaiah Noah Kikwabanga the Acting District Health Officer (DHO) says that the syringes and blood containers among other laboratory items were lacking by the time the vaccines were brought. 

“We have written to NMS warehouse to supply us with the lab items for screening so that we start vaccinating those without the virus. The only problem is that NMS has not assured us when the lab items will be brought,” Kikwabanga said. 

He however assured the population in the district that the vaccines are well preserved in a fridge. 

Doctors in Katakwi General Hospital disclosed that five deaths as a result of Hepatitis B are registered monthly. 

Recently, the Usuk County MP, Peter Ogwang warned the district health staff who will be conducting the mass vaccination exercise against charging the people money in order to be vaccinated or diverting the vaccines to their private clinics. 

Katakwi District has a population of 165,000 people and according to the health officers, about 80,000 are at risk of Hepatitis B.

According to the Ministry of Health, Hepatitis B prevalence rate in some districts is over 20% of the population – a figure higher than the national HIV prevalence rate which hovers around 7%.

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