The Global Alliance for Vaccination Initiative (GAVI) has given Uganda a grant amounting up to US$21m (about Ushs 54.6b) to support immunization programmes in the country.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Health, this follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between GAVI and the health ministry following the conclusion of the second GAVI mission to Uganda that has been reviewing the Financial Management Systems and Structure before disbursement of funds.
During the signing of the MOU, Dr Maryse Dugue, the GAVI mission head in Africa noted that the funding will go towards Immunization Systems Support (ISS) and Health Systems Strengthening (HSS).
According to Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the director general of health services at the health ministry, immunization is one of the key childhood survival strategies that the health sector undertakes to reduce child mortality.
She said, with the new funding, the health ministry is optimistic that Uganda will be able to improve its routine immunization coverage which currently stands at 77% for DPT3--a cocktail vaccine that tackles the three killer diseases of diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.
GAVI is in addition committing over US$22m (about Ushs 57b) for vaccines and related supplies to support Uganda during the introduction of Pneumococcal Vaccine (PCV) in April this year, and Rotavirus Vaccine against diarrhoea and HPV against cervical cancer in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Part of this funding will also support the health ministry to construct a new modern Vaccine Store in Kampala to act as a national store for vaccines in addition to building eight regional cold storage hubs at the regional referral hospitals of Arua, Gulu, Soroti, Moroto, Mbale, Mbarara, Hoima, and Fort Portal.
According the ministry, construction of the hubs will help to take vaccines closer to the people, improve stock outs and maintenance of the cold chain. From the hubs, vaccines will then be distributed to hospitals and lower level health facilities.
The funding will also support construction of 20 medicine stores in the new districts of Agago, Albetong, Amudat, Buhweju, Buikwe, Bukwo, Buliisa, Isingiro, Kibuuku, Luuka, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Nakaseke, Namutumba, Ngora, Ntoroko, Rubirizi, Sheema, Zombo and Nakapiripirit.
Staff houses will also be constructed in 13 districts with hard to reach areas including Bugiri, Bulambuli, Bundibugyo, Kalangala, Buvuma, Kanungu, Kasese, Kisoro, Mayuge, Mukono, Namayingo and Wakiso.
GAVI support will further go towards the procurement of 10 motorized boats for districts in islands to help in the transportation of health workers, patients, vaccines and medical supplies.
The districts will also receive vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles to ease the movement of vaccines, related supplies and health personnel who carry out vaccination.