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Experts recommend new tetanus vaccine

By Gloria Nakajubi

Added 16th April 2018 05:56 PM

Tetanus toxoid is part of the vaccines in the rountine immunisation schedule however; there is a reported increase in the number of tetanus infections raising questions about its efficacy.

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Tetanus toxoid is part of the vaccines in the rountine immunisation schedule however; there is a reported increase in the number of tetanus infections raising questions about its efficacy.

HEALTH

KAMPALA - The Uganda National Immunisation Advisory Group (UNITAG) wants the Government to opt for the tetanus diphtheria other than the current tetanus toxoid.

Tetanus toxoid is part of the vaccines in the rountine immunisation schedule however; there is a reported increase in the number of tetanus infections raising questions about its efficacy.

Speaking during a public seminar organised by the Makerere University School of Public Health last week, Dr Peter Waiswa, a senior lecturer and child health specialist at the school, many women are being diagnosed with tetanus, yet they were earlier vaccinated.

In a 2016 study by Barbara Nanteza and others titled “The burden of tetanus in Uganda” done at Masafu Hospital in Busia district, it was noted that “the burden of tetanus is increasing, especially among females aged 5+ years,” also indicating a high fatality at 47.4%.

Currently, according to the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation guidelines, tetanus toxoid is administered to women of child bearing age (15-45years).
 
According to an evaluation study by UNITAG, tetanus diphtheria vaccines will not only strengthen the protection against tetanus, but also provide additional protection against diphtheria.

The experts also argued that the introduction of tetanus diphtheria is in line with current worldwide trends and Uganda might be left behind if it does not make the switch.

“Uganda should add three booster doses of tetanus diphtheria to the routine immunisation schedule at 12-23 months, four to seven years of age; and nine to 45 years of age. This will provide lifelong protection against tetanus, as well address the low coverage among pregnant women,” Waiswa explained.

The seminar hosted under the theme, Sustainability of Uganda’s Immunisation Programme following the entry of new vaccines had specialists make recommendation on the financing and efficacy questions that shroud the donor dependent programme.

Health economist Dr Charlotte Muheki stressed the need for the Government to take up a significant share in immunisation funding unlike the present state, where the programme is largely dependent on donors.

“When we exclude GAVI funds, there is an over 90% funding gap. With this the country cannot adequately plan its immunisation schedules. The increase in population is not being met by a similar increase in funds for immunisation,” she said.

One of the strategies according to Muheki would be to levy a special tax or earmark a specific percentage of the taxes for immunisation.

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