20 July 2018

Uganda: Health Facilities Run Out of Polio, Rotavirus Vaccines

Kampala — Parents are struggling to have their children immunised against polio and rotavirus after most health facilities in the country reported stock-outs of both vaccines.

A mother, who preferred anonymity in order to speak freely, told Daily Monitor that Kawempe Hospital, which is affiliated to Mulago National Referral Hospital, had run out of the polio vaccine by the time she delivered her baby.

"I had my baby through C-section at Kawempe hospital but I could not have her immunised against polio because the hospital had no vaccines," she said yesterday.

She added that for two weeks now, her baby has not received the vaccine.

"Even private hospitals in Kampala do not have the vaccine, so I don't know what I am going to do," she wondered.

In an interview, Mr Enock Kusasira, the Mulago public relations officer, admitted that the hospital had run out of vaccines but blamed the shortage on Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

"KCCA has not supplied us with vaccines," he said.

The KCCA head of public and corporate affairs, Mr Peter Kauju, could not be reached for a comment as he never picked up our repeated calls.

But Dr Henry Luzze, the deputy manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI) at the Ministry of Health, said the government has polio vaccines at the National Medical Stores (NMS).

"We have the polio vaccine, so there might be a problem with the ordering process at the individual health facilities," Dr Luzze said in a telephone interview.

But the UNEPI manager, Dr Bernard Opar, blamed the lack of the vaccines at the health facilities on the stocking process at NMS that was concluded last week. "NMS was doing its annual stock-taking and had not distributed the vaccines for July but this week, they will start distribution, so the vaccines will be available at the health facilities," Dr Opar said.

Last month, the management at NMS issued a public notice, asking health facilities to make requisitions of medicines ahead of its annual stock taking.

NMS general manager Moses Kamabare said they have not received funds to purchase the vaccines thus the current temporary shortage. "We are waiting for money from the ministry of Finance," Mr Kamabare said in a text message.

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