Uganda: Government Launches Mass Polio Vaccination

14 January 2022
Nile Post News (Kampala)

As the country struggles to contain a polio outbreak confirmed in August last year, the ministry of Health and partners have rolled out a mass polio vaccination exercise targeting 8.8 million children below five years.

Speaking at a function held at Wakiso health centre IV, health experts said Uganda, like many other African countries, may continue to grapple with random polio outbreaks if its neighbouring countries don't invest in ending polio.

The ministry of Health has flagged off the mass polio vaccination drive in 136 districts starting with Wakiso were 640,000 children below five years will be vaccinated

Hanifa Kawooya, the minister of state for Health (General Duties) said during the exercise, the children will be given two drops of the polio vaccine to protect them against the polio virus

The exercise follows a report on surveillance which confirmed that the water system contained the polio virus.

Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, the director Public Health at the ministry said they are targeting 8.8 million children.

"Our health teams will move door to door to vaccinate these children," he said.

While Uganda is among the few countries that have successfully dealt with polio cases, the rise in vaccine derived polio virus could be another health setback.

Dr Yonas Woldemariam, the WHO country representative said Uganda has not reported a polio case since 1996 although it keeps getting cases from neighbouring countries.

"When the population is vaccinated the probability of finding the polio virus is almost zero," Woldemariam said.

The vaccination exercise however come at a time when the village health teams (VHTS) tasked to carry out the exercise are disgruntled because of government's failure to motivate them.

Matia Lwanga, the Wakiso LCV chairman, said government must address the grievances of the workers.

Uganda last had a mass polio vaccination drive in 2019.

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