KAMPALA — Health workers in Uganda will begin a house-to-house polio vaccination drive starting Friday, January 14 to 16, the Ministry of Health has said.
The campaign targets about 8.8 million children below the age of five in government’s latest effort to contain the endemic polio, an incurable and highly infectious disease transmitted through sewage that can cause crippling paralysis in young children.
The door-to-door strategy “is designed to reach every single child in the villages and settlements,” Dr. Henry Mwebesa, Director General Health Services at Ministry of Health said.
“Health workers will visit house-to-house and vaccinate all children aged 5 years and below against Polio. All health workers participating in the campaign will wear masks and strictly observe the COVID-19 SOPs to ensure children are safely vaccinated,” Dr. Mwebesa said.
He said the three-day immunization drive aims at guarding the children against any polio from any country that might come.
Polio has been virtually eliminated globally through a decades-long inoculation drive. But last year, health authorities announced an outbreak of a polio virus type 2, whose vaccine was excluded from the country’s routine immunization programs in 2016.
The 1st round will commence on 14th-16th January 2022 and the second round is expected to be after four weeks.
During the house-to-house campaign, Dr. Mwebesa said the vaccination team will comprise of one health worker, one Local Council (LC1) or Village Health Team member that will move door to door to administer the Polio vaccine which will be given by putting two drops in the child’s mouth.
Polio immunization was delayed due to the urgency to protect the elderly population, through vaccination against COVID-19.
Uganda was certified polio free in October 2006 by the World Health Organization after having reported no indigenous polio cases for 10 years.
Similar outbreaks, according to the ministry, were occurring in the countries bordering Uganda including Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia, some of which contribute to a high number of refugees entering the country.
The effort to eradicate polio internationally is spearheaded by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership led by national governments with five partners – the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.