KAMPALA — The Ministry of Health has said that Uganda still registers over 100,000 unimmunised infants every year and if nothing is done, it may result into a pool of unimmunised population that puts the country at risk of Polio importation due to our porous borders.
These remarks were made by Dr Charles Olalo, Director Clinical Services while officiating over a function where Uganda was joining the rest of the world to mark the World Polio Day on Saturday 24th October 2020 at Kikubamutwe in Kabalagala, Kampala.
Olalo said the current threat to the nation and region is the ongoing circulating vaccine derived Polio virus outbreaks in DRC and South Sudan to internal conflicts and the weak surveillance system for Polio and other vaccine preventable issues.
“As we celebrate the African region on achieving certification for being free of the Wild Polo Virus, Africa remains at the risk due to its continued failure to attain the required population immunity due to several reasons like insecurity and the weak health system that deliver immunisation and Primary Health Care Services,” he said.
Olalo shared that the Polio Endgame Strategy 2019-2023 maintains strengthening surveillance and routine immunisation and other Polio Eradication Initiatives through integration within the existing Health System platforms as the next steps towards global eradication and containment of polio viruses.
The end game strategy is spearheaded by the Global Eradication Organisation Initiative (GPEI) which was established through a partnership between World Health Organisation (WHO); Centres for Disease Control (CDC); Rotary International; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
“Since their establishment in 1988, they have continued to mobilise resources to ensure that the polio vaccines are available to all eligible children until the wild polio virus is eradicated from the face of the earth,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Ms Rosette Nabbumba the Rotary District 9211 Governor said when Rotary and its partners launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, there were over 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries.
Thirty two years later, the number of reported polio cases has reduced by 99.9 percent. Two months ago, Nigeria, the last country with Polio was also declared Polio free which eventually led to Africa being declared polio free.
“While we have cause to celebrate this monumental effort, this is not the moment to let our guard down. Now and again we hear of traces of the virus being found in sewage in different parts of the world. This means that we must remain vigilant until polio is completely eradicated. There are only two countries in the world which continue to report cases of the wild poliovirus; Afghanistan and Pakistan,” she said.
Ms Nabbumba also pledged that Uganda Rotary clubs will continue to support the fight against polio by mobilizing resources, conducting awareness campaigns and organising regular medical camps to ensure that each and every child receives the polio vaccine.
“I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank the Rotarians throughout district 9211 who have continuously worked hard to fight Polio. Let us not give up, every shilling counts. I would also like to thank our partners in the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation for the collaboration in this struggle.”
Since 1985, Rotary International has contributed more than USD2.1Bn towards ending polio and will continue to work with other partners to sustain progress in the fight against polio.
“Rotary has thus committed to contribute USD5Omillion each year towards the Global Polio Eradication efforts. One of our key partners, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has also pledged to match Rotary’s contribution with an annual contribution of USD150million,” she shared.