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Tuesday,September 29,2020 06:41 AM

Uganda's immunization coverage improves

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th April 2015 06:35 PM

Uganda will soon kick out polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases, following a significant improvement in immunisation coverage countrywide.

Uganda's immunization coverage improves

Uganda will soon kick out polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases, following a significant improvement in immunisation coverage countrywide.

By Francis Kagolo

Uganda will soon kick out polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases, following a significant improvement in immunisation coverage countrywide.


 According to health minister Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye, the countrywide immunization coverage has jumped from 52% in 2011 to 98% currently. It means only 2% of the children aged five years and below are not immunized fully.

 “Our strategic plan aims at ensuring that Ugandans are free from vaccine-preventable diseases like polio, diphtheria, tetanus and pneumonia among others,” Tumwesigye said.

“This will enhance the quality of life of our population and eventually boost economic growth and development.”

The minister was addressing selected district health officers and diseases surveillance focal persons at the ministry headquarters in Kampala Thursday.

The officials had turned up to receive 52 motorcycles worth sh576m donated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in a bid to ease the work of surveillance of diseases, especially polio, in the hard-to-reach and newly created districts across the country. The districts include Kalangala, Mitooma, and Bundibugyo among others.

Dr. Robert Mayanja, the assistant commissioner for immunization, attributed the improvement in immunization coverage to the recent changes in the distribution process for vaccines, from districts to health facilities.

The introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) to prevent pneumonia in 2014 has also encouraged more parents to take their children for immunization, he explained.

Completing the immunisation schedule helps a child to get adequate protection from all the immunisable diseases. A child should be immunized at birth, six weeks, 10 weeks, 14 weeks and nine months.

The ministry and WHO in 2002 increased the number of immunisable diseases in Uganda from the traditional six to eight before the baby is one year old. They include measles, polio, tuberculosis, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B, influenza B and diphtheria.

Approximately 1.5 million babies are born in Uganda each year. The country spends over sh38.2b on immunization every year, sh26b of which comes from the Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative (GAVI).

The country achieved the 90% immunisation coverage target last year, although some (22%) of the 112 districts remained underperforming. This has since improved to 98% currently.

 The WHO Country Representative to Uganda, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, commended Uganda for efforts taken against polio. He said Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world with new polio cases every year.

While sub-Saharan Africa has spent eight months without recording any polio case, the last polio case in Uganda was seen in 2010, according to Dr.

Uganda plans to eradicate polio by 2018. To achieve the target, Mayanja said the ministry intends to replace the oral polio vaccine with a more effective injectable one which has three types of vaccines that give stronger immunity against the disease. The ministry requires $1.5m (about sh4.4b) to rollout the injectable polio vaccine.

 In the same vein, the ministry is expecting $8m (about sh23.5b) from the Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative (GAVI) to roll out cervical cancer immunization.

Vaccination against the cancer of the cervix was supposed to kick off this month but has been postponed to October.

Mayanja explained attributed the postponement to the heavy investment required.

The ministry needs to supply over 600 new fridges and 600 motorcycles to each health centre III across the country to aid the distribution of cervical cancer vaccines.

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