By Jimmy Komakech
The vaccines, procured by UNICEF with financial support from GAVI, will protect more than 18 million Ugandan children aged 9 months to 14 years against Measles and Rubella.
Coming up is a national vaccination campaign that will take place from 25 – 29, September 2019 – health ministry says.
The last batch of the vaccines was received on 18th July 2019 by Dr. Charles Olaro, Ministry of Health’s Director of Clinical Services at Entebbe International Airport. The doses were received in five batches.
Measles is highly contagious. The virus can be contracted by someone up to two hours after an infected person has left a room.
It spreads through air and infects the respiratory tract, potentially killing malnourished children or babies too young to be vaccinated.
Infection with measles is followed by high fever, rash that spreads over the body, cough, running nose and red watery eyes, with the disease weakening the body’s immune system.
It also often leads to serious complications that include blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea and severe respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia.
Rubella, is an infection caused by a virus and is particularly dangerous for adolescents and pregnant women.
When a woman is infected with the rubella virus early in pregnancy, she has a 90% chance of passing the virus to her unborn child. This can cause the death of the fetus or serious birth defects, such as deafness, blindness, and heart defects, known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS).
Doctors say children who contract rubella experience rashes and low fever, with the disease sometimes associated with joint pains and a swelling of the lymph nodes.
An increasing number of unvaccinated children in Uganda has led to measles outbreaks in several districts across the country.
62 districts are currently experiencing a measles outbreak while 25 have been affected by Rubella.
Globally, over 400 children die every day due to measles and about 280 babies are born every day with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
“Procurement of vaccines and other immunization supplies is one of several approaches UNICEF is taking to support the government of Uganda to contain the measles and rubella outbreaks across the country,” said Dr. Doreen Mulenga, UNICEF’s Representative in Uganda.
“By vaccinating every child in Uganda on time, we will avert the spread of these dangerous diseases and many preventable child deaths and birth defects.”
Lango – Lira starts mobilisation
Speaking to this contemporary online newspaper Thursday morning, Lira District Health Officer – Dr. Buchan Ocen says he and his team commenced community mobilisation and sensitization using radios.
Dr. Ocen, however says cases of measles has not been registered in Lira district for the past eight months.
“In Lango sub region we have been registering cases of Rubella. Rubella is increasing in Lango and most children are born with eye defect (tilo),” he added.
According to the district health chief, Lira has 57% of measles coverage, with entire Lango subregion standing at 58% coverage.
With Uganda having porous borders with neighboring countries like Kenya and Somalia (Horn of Africa) with high cases of measles, Dr. Ocen says vaccination will be rolled out countrywide to avoid any transportation of deadly disease.
Children aged nine months to 14 years will be vaccinated, health chief further says, and that vaccination will be done in private and government schools countrywide.
Additional reporting by Milton Emmy Akwam
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