The government is to vaccinate all children against a virus that causes acute diarrhoea, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, the health state minister in charge of general duties, has announced.
Speaking at a policy dialogue on reducing infant and child mortality in Uganda last week, Dr Tumwesigye said the vaccination drive against the rotavirus would start next year. The rotavirus, transmitted through consumption of food or drinks contaminated with faecal matter, accounts for 10 per cent (nearly 20,000) under-five deaths in Uganda.
“Many of our children are dying of vaccine- preventable diseases and by introducing the rotavirus vaccine in routine vaccination, Uganda will drastically reduce infant and child mortality,” said Dr Tumwesigye at the policy dialogue, which was organised by the Aocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE).
The vaccination campaign will be supported by the Gavi Alliance.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that if all Gavi-supported countries – Uganda inclusive – used the rotavirus vaccine, 180,000 deaths and six million hospital admissions associated with acute diarrhoea would be averted each year. The vaccine is already available in private hospitals where it costs around Shs 95,000.
Child and infant mortality is a major concern in Uganda because each year, approximately 200,000 children under the age of five die from preventable illnesses, especially malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia. Uganda has witnessed a recent acceleration in the reduction of under-five deaths from 137 to 90 per 1,000 live births between 2006 and 2011.
However, more effort is needed in meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 target of reducing these deaths to 56 per 1,000 live births by 2015.
Dr Flavia Mpanga, who works with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), urged the public to adopt simple cost-effective interventions such as hand washing with soap and water, taking safe drinking water and observing proper hygiene.
Source : The Observer