Uganda launches polio vaccination targeting over 7 mln children


Date: 05.03.2018

KAMPALA, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Uganda's ministry of health on Saturday launched a door-to-door polio immunization campaign to prevent the reintroduction of wild polio virus from neighboring countries.

Anthony Mbonye, the acting director general of health services, told Xinhua in an interview that the three-day exercise that ends on Monday targets some 7.4 million children under five years in 73 high-risk districts, especially those bordering South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

"This preventive vaccination campaign is to vaccinate all children under five years of age whether previously immunized or not, with Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) drops in the mouth and achieve at least 95 percent coverage for vaccination in the selected districts," said Mbonye.

"During this house-to-house campaign, the vaccination teams will move door to door to administer the Polio vaccine which is given by putting two drops in the child's mouth. This supplemental campaign, however, does not replace the routine immunization schedule," he said.

The vaccination exercise aims at increasing and sustaining high population immunity against the crippling disease.

Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by the Polio Virus and spreads from person to person.

It affects the nerves in the brain or spinal cord, causing paralysis of muscles that control swallowing and breathing, hence a child gets difficulty in breathing. The limbs and legs become paralyzed leading to permanent disability.

Uganda was certified polio free in October 2006 by World Health Organization after ten years of not reporting any indigenous polio cases.

However, cases of wild polio virus are being reported in the neighboring South Sudan and DRC, where thousands of refugees continue to cross into the east African country fleeing violence back home.

Health experts say this puts Uganda at risk of importing the wild virus from its neigbouring countries.

Uganda last experienced outbreaks of the polio virus in February 2009 and October 2010 imported from South Sudan and Kenya respectively.

In 2013 and early 2014, polio cases were detected and reported in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

In January 2016, Uganda carried out a nationwide door-to-door polio immunization exercise, targeting some 7.5 million children below five to avoid the potential spread from neighboring countries.

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