Ugandans not completing Hepatitis B vaccine injections

By John Odyek

Sarah Opendi, state minister for health told Parliament that many Ugandans take the first dose with few returning for the second and third doses.

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The Ministry of Health has advised Ugandans to complete the three doses of Hepatitis B vaccines once they get started.

Sarah Opendi, state minister for health told Parliament that many Ugandans take the first dose with few returning for the second and third doses.

Opendi made a statement to Parliament while responding to questions from Paulson Luttamaguzi (Nakaseke South) on the concerns of the prevalence of Hepatitis B in Nakaseke and the need for its mitigation.

“The challenges faced in implementing the Hepatitis B programme are the high rates of loss to follow up after the first and second doses of vaccination,” Opendi said on Thursday. She further said there was untimely provision of data from districts to the ministry on the implementation progress.

She added that some health workers were not showing dedication to the vaccination exercise.

Hapatitis is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. In humans it is caused by five different hepato-trophic viruses namely; Hepatitis A virus, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, Hepatitis D virus and Hepatitis E virus.

All Hepatitis viruses cause acute infections however Hepatitis D, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis D frequently cause chronic infections. Chronic hepatitis may progress to cause liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma thus accounting for most of the burden of disease in Uganda.

Uganda is highly endemic for Hepatitis B with a prevalence of 4.5% among adults 15-64 years old.

The Uganda Population –based HIV impact assessment 2016 survey indicates that chronic Hepatitis B infection prevalence varies across the country with the highest rates in Northern region with 4.6% in mid North, 4.4% in North East and 3.8%  in West Nile.

Hepatitis B infection was lower in the rest of the country with a range of 0.8% in South West region to 2% in Central region where Nakaseke district is located.

According to Opendi the health ministry has been implementing Hepatitis B control activities including screening and vaccination of adolescents since 2015. So far 69 of 127 (54.3%) districts have been covered.

“The vaccination exercise is being done in a phased manner due to financial challenges which cannot allow the roll out of the exercise in all districts at ago. The ministry will continue with sensitisation programmes working with local governments and training health workers on management of Hepatitis B cases,” Opendi said.

Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West) said they received reports that the National Medical Stores had stocks of vaccines in their stores but were not being delivered.

Mohammed Nsereko (Kampala Central) asked the ministry to have mobile vans that can take the vaccines to people. Nsereko said some find it hard to travel long distances in remote health centers for the vaccines.

Beatrice Anywar (Kitgum Municipality) said the rate of Hepatitis B was so high in the North. Anywar informed the House that four people from Kitgum were recently denied good jobs after interviews because they tested positive for Hepatitis B.

MPs said some health centers were over crowded which discouraged Ugandans from joining long queues to get vaccinated. They said in private health centers vaccines were being sold very expensively which has deterred people from paying for them.

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