Press Statement on Polio Immunisation Campaign

Press Statement on upcoming Mass Polio Immunisation Campaign
19th January 2016

Dr. Asuman Lukwago
Permanent Secretary
                                    MINISTRY OF HEALTH
                                    P. O.  BOX 7272,
                                    KAMPALA - UGANDA

On behalf of the Ministry of Health and the Government of Uganda, I take this opportunity to welcome you all to this press conference, convened to inform and update the public on the upcoming Polio immunization campaign.

As you are aware, Vaccination is one of the key strategies that the Ministry of Health is implementing in its roadmap to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals aimed at improving the health and welfare of children. Currently, the sector has made good progress in child immunization increasing from DPT3 coverage of 52% in 2012 to the current coverage of 97%.
Uganda was certified Polio free in October 2006 by the World Health Organization after ten years of not reporting any indigenous cases of Polio, however, with Polio cases being reported by the neighbouring countries and the porous nature of our borders which enables free movement of people amongst countries, Uganda remains at high risk of importing the Wild Polio virus.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in consultation with national health authorities, global health initiatives, scientific experts, donors and other stakeholders, in response to a directive of the World Health Assembly developed a Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013–2018. This is a comprehensive, long-term strategy that addresses what is needed to deliver a polio-free world by 2018.

It is against this background therefore, that the Ministry of Health, with support from the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other partners are conducting a House to House Polio immunization campaign.  

The objective of the campaign is to vaccinate at least all children under five years of age in the 57 high risk districts in Uganda.
The districts have been selected based on the criteria of;
1.    High cross border movements of populations due to insecurity in neighboring countries that could re-establish circulation of wild polio virus in Uganda
2.    Low routine immunization coverage
3.    High proportion of zero dose children below five years of age as identified through the Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance system

The vaccination campaign will take place on Saturday 23rd, Sunday 24th and Monday 25th January 2016 in 57 high risk districts. These are; Adjuman, Arua, Buliisa, Busia, Gulu, Isingiro, Kabarole, Kanungu, Kiboga, Kitgum, Kyankwanzi, Agago, Amuru, Bundibugyo, Butaleja, Hoima, Kampala, Kabale, Kasese, Kiryandongo, Koboko, Kyegegwa, Lamwo, Apac, Buikwe, Bugiri, Buvuma, Iganga, Jinja, Kamwenge, Kibaale, Kisoro, Kole, Luwero, Mayuge, Masindi, Lira, Kyenjojo, Maracha, Moyo, Mubende, Yumbe and Zombo.
During the exercise, all children under 5 years of age whether previously immunized or not, will be given Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) drops in the mouth.  
The vaccination teams will comprise of one health worker and one local council (LC1) official or VHT member. We shall use this opportunity to sensitize parents and guardians on identifying and investigating any unreported cases of suspected cases of Polio.
The teams will move from house to house vaccinating all children in the target age group. The total estimated number of children to be reached during this year’s campaign is 4,757,791 children below 5 years of age in all 57 high risk districts.
The Total Cost of this campaign is 9.9 Billion shillings and has been supported with funds from the World Health Organization, UNICEF and Government of Uganda
The reason behind the house to house campaign is due to the fact that there may be no one available at home to take the children to the Vaccination posts and in some instances; there may be lack of interest or motivation to have children vaccinated. Experience in many countries has shown that House to House campaigns are 20% more successful compared to fixed site strategies
It is important to note that this mass Polio immunisation exercise does not replace the routine immunization services provided at the health facilities and outreach posts. Therefore, children below 5 years of age who have not received their full doses of the routine vaccination should be taken to the nearest health centre or outreach post to complete their immunization schedule. It is our desire that every child in Uganda should complete the recommended vaccinations by the end of their first year of life.

Finally, The Ministry of Health makes this appeal to the general public;

1.    Parents and Guardians, please ensure that ALL your children below five years of age in the named 57 districts are immunised against Polio during this house to house immunisation exercise

2.    Please report any child under the age of 15 years who develops sudden weakness in the arms or legs to the nearest health facility for examination and appropriate management because it could be Polio.

Lastly, the Ministry of Health urges parents and caretakers to continuously take their children to health facilities and community outreaches for routine vaccination against all childhood killer diseases till they complete the recommended immunization schedule.
I thank you all

For God and My Country
Dr. Asuman Lukwago  
Permanent Secretary