Ministry of Health has unveiled plans to roll out the rota-virus Vaccine this year. The vaccine is used to protect children under one year from diarrheal diseases which is among the leading direct causes of infant mortality in Uganda.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting on prevention, control and elimination of Cholera in Uganda, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng noted that the Ministry is now focusing on health promotion and disease prevention hence the decision to introduce the rotavirus vaccine on the routine immunization schedule. “No young child should die of diarrhea. Diarrheal diseases can be prevented. The introduction of the rotavirus vaccine will go a long way in curbing infant mortality due to diarrheal diseases” she added.
Hon. Aceng underscored Government’s efforts and interventions that have led to a steady decline of Cholera, one of the diarrheal diseases in Uganda.
She, however, warned that diarrheal diseases should not be part of Ugandan population. “The decline is not enough. I would like to see zero cholera cases reported from all districts because we know what causes cholera and how to prevent it using old and new tools” Aceng said.
She cautioned district and local leaders who ignore their communities’ practice of out open defecation and being shy of the standard 100% latrine coverage. “I urge you all to take note and act before we arrive at your doorsteps” she said.
According to researchers from Makerere University School of Public Health and the Ministry of Health, Uganda is heavily affected by Cholera and ‘hotspots’ – also known as the four Cholera prone districts were identified in Uganda and these are; Nebbi, Pakwach, Hoima and Buliisa. In 2017, 265 Cholera cases were confirmed in the country. The risk factors of the diarrheal disease were attributed to; Poor sanitation among locals especially the fishing communities, inadequate safe water, Flooding/rain and cross-border movement.
“We are also introducing oral cholera vaccine to complement provision of water, sanitation and hygiene in the Cholera hotspots specifically for the fishing community who according to research contribute 58% of reported cholera cases annually” Hon. Aceng noted.
Acting Director General Health Services, Dr. Henry Mwebesa noted that 75%
of disease burden in Uganda arises from preventable diseases. “If we practice the right behaviors such as washing hands with soap and clean water, washing vegetables and fruits before eating, we should not allow for Cholera outbreaks in Uganda” he said. He added that continued surveillance and vigilance in addressing and controlling these outbreaks are necessary.
Prof. Rhoda Wanyenze, Dean of Makerere University School of Public Health expressed visible excitement about the meeting and discussions that led to new interventions in eliminating Cholera in Uganda.
The Stakeholders meeting brought together academia and researchers from Makerere University School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF who shared lessons and best practices that Uganda could learn from in order to eliminate Cholera.
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