On 13th January 2022, Uganda’s Ministry of Health launched the vaccination campaign under the theme, Keep Uganda Polio Free.
Ms Teopista is a mother of two little boys and a girl, all eligible for the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPD). For her, the launch of the National House-to-House Polio Immunization campaign could not have come at a better time.“When we were growing up, there weren’t many vaccines to prevent diseases and many children fell sick and died, I, therefore, can’t let the chance to give my children a healthy life through vaccination, pass me by,” she enthused. On 13th January 2022, Uganda’s Ministry of Health launched the vaccination campaign under the theme, Keep Uganda Polio Free. The launch took place at Wakiso Health Center IV and was presided over by the State Minister of Health in Charge of General Duties, Honorable Hanifah Kawooya. The House-to-House Polio immunization campaign targets all children under the age of five, in all districts and they will receive the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). The first round of the vaccination campaign will take place over three days, from 14th to 16th January 2022. It will be implemented by health workers, village health teams and Local Council I who will administer two drops of the OPV in the mouth of each child under five years. At the launch of the campaign, Hon Hanifah pointed out that, vaccination remains the most effective public health measure in tackling diseases. “The Uganda government took up vaccination as one of its most effective public health measures and has continued to do so to date. We have been dealing with COVID-19, but we had vaccine-derived Polio type 2 (cVDPV2) from an environmental sample hence the effort to prevent through the national vaccination campaign,” she said. She further commended the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Center for Diseases Control, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International and other partners for supporting the Ministry of Health in ensuring the vaccination campaign takes place. The WHO Representative to Uganda, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam commended the Ministry on vaccination against COVID-19, Polio and all other vaccine-preventable diseases, noting that “diseases affect productivity and cripple economies but can be tackled using effective public health measures like vaccination.” Regarding disease surveillance, he said, “as part of the Polio Global Endgame strategy, the Ministry of Health, in close collaboration with stakeholders including WHO, has enhanced surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), disrupting the transmission.” Dr Yonas also emphasized that to effectively deal with vaccine-preventable diseases, it’s important that all who are eligible for vaccination ensure that they are vaccinated especially through the government routine immunization programs. The UNICEF Representative to Uganda applauded the government of Uganda for being proactive while imploring community members to make use of the government’s immunization programs including COVID-19 vaccination because they are the key to ensuring that all lives are protected. Indeed, Ms Teopista agrees and further mentions that in addition to ensuring that all her children benefit from the government’s vaccination programs, she will rally her neighbours and fellow mothers in the market to take up these services.
“We usually have group meetings in the evenings and on weekends. I am going to implore fellow mothers to allow their children to get vaccinated because our children will be the ones to look after us when we become of old age,” she asserts.
*Source World Health Organization – Uganda