BUIKWE – The Government of Uganda has today 26 June launched a new rotavirus vaccine to protect under five-year-old children from diarrhea.
The vaccine, which will be available for free in health facilities throughout the country, is the 11th vaccine to be added into the national schedule of the expanded programme on immunization in Uganda.
“Rotavirus vaccine is safe and can be administered simultaneously with other routine infant vaccines. It is given orally and requires two doses at 6 and 10 weeks of age, with an interval of at least 4 weeks between doses,” said Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the minister of health.
Rotavirus infection is the leading cause of severe, dehydrating diarrhea in young children under five and it is highly contagious and poses death to children once it is not managed and treated well.
The virus may cause severe, dehydrating diarrhea in young children and, in untreated cases, lead to death.
Dr Aceng said while improved access to clean water and better sanitation and hygiene practices are vital to preventing most diarrheal diseases, they have done little to disrupt rotavirus infection.
According to World Health Organization, an estimated 450,000 children under five years of age die each year from vaccine preventable rotavirus infections. Diarrhea is among the top ten causes of morbidity in Uganda, with rotavirus being responsible for about 40% of all diarrheal cases.
And statistics in ministry of health estimate that 10,637 children under five years of age die in Uganda each year due to rotavirus diarrhea.
Speaking at the launch of the vaccine in Buikwe, Dr Aceng, announced that Rotavirus vaccine is now available in Uganda and appealed to Ugandans to take their children at 6 weeks and 10 weeks of age for rotavirus immunization to the nearest health facility.
The introduction of the rotavirus vaccine into the routine immunization schedule is financed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, with technical support from WHO and UNICEF.
“The government is commitment to fight against vaccine preventable diseases and accelerate reduction in child morbidity and mortality and this vaccine will help save the lives of thousands of children in Uganda by combating severe diarrhea,” said Dr Aceng.
Mr Anuradha Gupta, the Gavi Deputy Chief Executive Officer said the introduction of rotavirus vaccine marks a key milestone in the country’s commitment to improve the health of all children “and I’d like to commend the Government for its efforts to provide a bright future for Uganda’s next generation,” he added.
Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam, the WHO representative said the use of Rotavirus vaccines will be part of a comprehensive strategy to control diarrhea diseases with the scaling up of both prevention and treatment packages.
Dr. Doreen Mulenga, the UNICEF representative in Uganda, congratulated the Ministry of Health for making further progress in securing children’s health by introducing a rotavirus vaccine into its national immunization programme and called upon parents, guardians and caregivers to ensure that all infants are immunized against rotavirus.
She added that vaccination is one of the best ways to protect children from serious childhood diseases. Ends
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing equitable use of vaccines in lower-income countries.
The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. Gavi uses innovative finance mechanisms, including co-financing by recipient countries, to secure sustainable funding and adequate supply of quality vaccines.
Since 2000, Gavi has contributed to the immunisation of nearly 640 million children and the prevention of more than 9 million future deaths. Learn more at www.gavi.org the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in poor countries.
The Vaccine Alliance is supported by donor governments (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, the People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the State of Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States), the European Commission, Alwaleed Philanthropies, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as private and corporate partners (Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc.)