Government is scheduled to embark on a phased mass vaccination against the highly contagious hepatitis B in the most affected districts. Sarah Opendi, the Primary Health Care minister says 2.7 billion shillings has been earmarked for the vaccination exercise.
Opendi says the mass vaccination exercise that will start in March this year will cover districts in Eastern and Northern Uganda.
Some of the districts earmarked to benefit from the first phase of the hepatitis B mass vaccination exercise include Gulu, Kitgum, Lira, Arua, Adjumani, Yumbe, Moyo, Kasese, Ngora, Bukedea and Amuria.
Reports show that, Hepatitis B prevalence in the selected districts stands at 20 percent.
Opendi says government has agreed to roll out the vaccination program in the selected districts as the Centre for Disease Control warns of the emerging dangers resulting from ignoring the disease.
She says US $ 30M (about sh76.2b) will be used to roll out the second phase of the program, which will cover the entire country.
Our investigations show that a single dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine costs between shillings 90,000 and 300, 000 in private clinics in Kampala and up country 45,000 and 90,000 shillings.
Until recently, the hepatitis B vaccine has only been available for medical personnel and children under five years in government hospitals free of charges.
Dr. Patrick Anguzu, the Arua district health officer has welcomed the move to conduct mass vaccination against the disease.
He says in Arua alone the number of people infected ranges between 50,000 to 100,000, which he says is a serious burden to health services.
The disease is caused by Hepatitis B virus and is prevalent mainly in Asia and Africa – with a raging pandemic in China.
The virus is transmitted through exposure to infectious blood or body fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids, while viral DNA has been detected in the saliva, tears, and urine of chronic carriers.
Medical evidence suggests that many people infected with Hepatitis B and manage to access the very expensive combination of palliative drugs tend to become carriers after developing immunity to the disease.