Uganda’s immunisation coverage rate is said to have stagnated at 78% since 2012
By Evaline Namuwaya
The health ministry has admitted that there has been stagnation in the national vaccine coverage rate which has been ranked to be low by the WHO.
Uganda's national immunisation coverage rate - measured by percentage of children receiving the third dose of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine (DTP3) is said to have stagnated at 78% since 2012.
This is below the Global Vaccination Action Plan target of at least 90% coverage.
Dr Opar Bernard Toliva, the programme manager of Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation said the health ministry is set to launch a massive campaign to sensitise the populace about immunisation to see that the situation can change.
This was revealed while responding to the experts' call for increased investments to drive immunisation progress in Africa.
"Ugandans have become victims of their own success, because for long we had not had outbreaks for measles and not until recently that parent moved to take their children. Why should we wait until we get outbreaks to participate in vaccination?" he wondered.
Experts from Gavi (the vaccine alliance), the Regional Immunization Technical Advisory Group and the World Health Organisation while meeting recently in Johannesburg observed that Uganda has not introduced rotavirus vaccine in the national immunization schedule yet it was set out to support rotavirus vaccine introductions in 33 countries by the end of 2015.
The high-profile meeting also indicated that Uganda's Measles-containing-vaccine first-dose (MCV1) coverage has stagnated at 82% since 2012, putting the country at risk of missing the 2020 elimination target.
Opar also decried the poor response to vaccination against Human papillomavirus (HPV), especially after the receiving the first dose. He said that coverage for the first dose has reached 80 per cent however the second dose has been low at 23%.
"We want to also meet school headteachers, parents and other stakeholders to help these girls receive a full dose of the HPV vaccine, otherwise one single dose is useless," he said.
He has also dismissed claims being circulated purporting that the vaccine are unsafe. He has also dismissed claims being circulated purporting that the vaccine are unsafe for the girls. "These vaccines are purchased from Gavi and they have been prequalified by WHO. Besides, government cannot kill its own people through vaccination," he said.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the regional director for Africa at WHO said that while Africa has made significant gains toward increasing access to immunisation in the past few decades, immunisation coverage - measured by percentage of children receiving the third dose of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine (DTP3) containing vaccine - has stagnated at 74% in recent years.
"Vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) still kill more than half a million children less than five years of age in Africa every year - representing approximately 56% of global deaths caused by VPDs. At the current pace, the region is off track to achieve the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) and the Africa Regional Strategic Plan for Immunization (RSPI) target of 90% national immunization coverage by 2020," she added.