UGANDA – Uganda’s Ministry of Health has acquired 12.9 million doses of oral polio vaccine from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that will be used in the second phase of polio vaccination campaigns targeting children under 5 years.

The Ministry of Health declared polio a public health emergency in Uganda in 2021 following confirmation of positive laboratory tests from environmental samples in Kampala, polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system causing total paralysis within hours.

The Ministry announced that samples collected from two sentinel environmental sites in Kampala and tested at Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) confirmed that the strain was the Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Virus type 2(cVDPV2).

Paralysis is the most severe symptom associated with polio and while there is no cure for polio, the disease can be prevented through administration of a simple and effective vaccine. The ongoing vaccination campaign in Uganda targets to eliminate all forms of poliovirus.

Wild poliovirus transmission remains at an all-time low, with only six cases reported globally in 2021. Importation of any case must be treated as a serious concern and high-quality response efforts to reach every child with polio vaccine are critical to prevent further spread.

The Ugandan Ministry of Health warned that the rare wild polio virus type 2 vaccine was excluded from the country’s routine immunization programs in 2016, adding that the resurgence may be attributed to the reduced routine immunization in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In January, Uganda successfully completed the first phase of vaccination campaigns where over 8 million children below the age of five were vaccinated against polio in an effort to halt the outbreak and extinguish the threat.

Uganda has received a consignment of 12.9 million doses of the oral polio vaccines delivered at Entebbe to facilitate the second round of the house to house polio vaccination campaign slated to take place later in August 2022.

The handing over ceremony saw the participation of officials from Uganda’s Ministry of Health, UNICEF, World Health Organization, Centre for Disease Control and the National Medical Stores at the Entebbe International Airport.

UNICEF country representative in Uganda Munir Safieldin emphasized that vaccines for children have been the most effective strategy to reduce child mortality while noting that the second round of the polio vaccination campaign will fully protect children against polio.

In addition, the African Regional Certification Commission for Poliomyelitis Eradication (ARCC) recently held a meeting in Malawi to guide African countries on how to address and stop the current wild poliovirus circulation and prevent future outbreaks.

ARCC chairperson Professor Rose Leke reaffirmed the ARCC’s commitment to remain vigilant, monitor and advocate for high quality interventions to be made in countries to bridge the immunity and surveillance gaps and stop the Circulating Vaccine Derived Polioviruses.

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