14 February 2013

Uganda: Pneumonia Immunisation to Start Soon

Photo: Kristin Palitza/IPS
An eight-month-old boy with pneumonia is examined by a doctor (file photo).

The Government is to conduct a nationwide mass immunisation campaign against pneumonia and diarrhoea.

State Minister for Health (General Duties) Sarah Kataike said the campaign will be conducted using funds from the Global Alliance on Vaccines Initiative.

She said the vaccination is scheduled to start in April.

"The Government is emphasising preventive health because it has been proven that preventive health is less costly and better for this country," Kataike said.

She said on top of the other vaccinations against tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus, the Government will also conduct vaccinations against cervical cancer for girls aged eight to 12, starting in 2015.

Kataike urged the media to support the Government in advocating for preventive health so as to cut down on health expenditure.

She made the remarks on Wednesday while opening the third annual health journalism convention organised by the Health Journalists Network Uganda at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.

The three-day convention is running under the theme: "promoting preventive health".

It aims at improving health reporting, engaging journalists, researchers and experts on health issues as well as collecting information on preventive health.

Kataike said the health ministry is aware that 80% of the diseases in Uganda are preventable, but little is being done to prevent them.

She said globally, focus has been on preventive care as a key to improving health and making health expenditure cost effective.

Kataike said the Government, will also implement policies like mandatory testing and counselling for HIV as well as eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Dr. Margaret Mungherera, the president of the Uganda and World Medical Association, said the Government needs to walk the talk.

She said if the ministry of Finance fails to allocate money for sanitation to the education and health ministries, they will have let down preventive care.

"The number of people acquiring communicable diseases is reducing, but not fast enough. Non-communicable diseases are on the increase due to poor lifestyles," Mungherera said.

"The Government has allocated zero percent to sanitation, but is, at the same time, talking of preventive health promotion," she said.

Mungherera called upon journalists to help expose and deny quack medical practitioners audience because they compromise the effort of preventive care.

She said of the 6,000 doctors in Uganda, only 3,500 have renewed their practicing license, meaning that 2,500 doctors are working illegally.

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