NEBBI. The ministry of health with support from the World Health Organization has launched the integrated oral cholera vaccination campaign in Uganda with a call on citizens to enhance hygiene and sanitation in their homes.
The minister of health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng who was the chief guest at the national event on Friday held at Parombo Sub County, Nebbi district, said the district was chosen to host the national event because it is prone to cholera outbreaks.
Aceng explained that door to door vaccination exercise will begin early this month and everyone above 1 year will be vaccinated against cholera using the new vaccine.
She assured the gathering that the vaccine gives 3 year protection against cholera and that it has been evidenced in Hoima where vaccination was done in the first phase last year and no deaths have been reported since.
“We are very sure after the 3 years, you shall have known the best hygiene practices that will kick cholera out of Nebbi and other districts,” Aceng said.
She assured the locals of the safety of the vaccine and appealed to health workers who will be responsible for administering it not to ask for money from locals for it.
“This vaccine is safe and I know there are people who may attempt to say it is harmful but I assure you it is safe and I came will all these experts from the UN to affirm that it is safe,” she said.
She said much as the district leaders say cholera always begins from the DRC, the pandemic finds a favorable atmosphere because of the poor hygiene and sanitation practices on the Ugandan side.
The integrated oral cholera vaccine will be given in two doses in the first and second week and about 615,000 people are expected to be vaccinated from Buliisa, Pakwach, Nebbi and Zombo districts.
Mr Patrick Tusiime, the commissioner national disease control in the ministry of health and director of health services said cholera is a shameful disease which can be easily prevented through improved hygiene and sanitation.
According to him, people’s request for health center IVs and referral hospitals in all the cholera hot spots will not help unless people improve on their sanitation.
“By having good hygiene practices, be sure of preventing about 80% of the preventable diseases and I urge you to have the sanitary facilities in place so that you stop disease burden in your homes,” Tusiime said.
During the same event, Nebbi district chairman, Mr William Ezrom Alenyo and other district leaders called for the elevation of Parombo health center III to IV in order to effectively provide health services in its catchment areas that extend to the DR-Congo.
Alenyo also appealed to the ministry of health to upgrade Nebbi general hospital to a referral facility and increase on drug stock in a bid to provide better health services to the population.
The district leaders argued that the location of Parombo health center III along the border with DRC posses a great health challenge to the district where most Congolese prefer services from Uganda craeting a huge challenge on the district.
According to the World Health organization, at least 50,000 cholera deaths were recorded in the Sub-Saharan Africa including Uganda in 2017 alone.
Cholera is inherently linked to water supply and is spread when people consume contaminated food or water. “Cholera is a disease of inequity. The poverty map of the world is the same as the cholera map,” says Dominique Legros, a cholera expert at WHO.