HEALTH: Cholera vaccination suspended over COVID-19 concerns

Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng administers a vaccine last year. (FILE PHOTO)

Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng administers a vaccine last year. (FILE PHOTO)

Kampala – This year’s Cholera vaccination, scheduled to start in June, has been suspended. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has announced.

Dr Godfrey Bwire, who heads the Diarrheal Diseases Division at the Ministry attributes the suspension to the disruptions caused by the ongoing lockdown that was instituted to curb the further spread of Coronavirus disease.

Bwire says that in some districts such as Ntoroko, teams from the Ministry who were supposed to carry out micro plans before the roll-out of the exercise had arrived.

He reveals that most of the meetings have been using Zoom, an online platform to make preparations.

However, cholera related deaths have been reported in different parts of the country including Moroto, where four people were confirmed dead on Thursday.

According to Phillip Lotee, the in charge of Loputuk Health Centre III in Moroto district, 22 patients are currently admitted at the isolation unit. He adds that the number is overwhelming the facility which was built to accommodate just 10 beds.

But, even with these challenges, the district is not among those that will benefit from the planned interventions that are hoped to start in July.

Moroto is not among those that are targeted as hot-spots and as they are currently battling an outbreak, they will not benefit from the drive.

The six districts set to benefit from the vaccination exercise include Kasese, Moyo, Arua, Ntoroko, Busia and Namayingo targeting to reach between 800,000 and one million people.

Bwire says their interventions are based on the belief that once the hots-pots are covered, the possibility of a serious outbreak is minimal. He says people who spread cholera to other areas are mostly from those hot-spots that they have been targeting since the launch of vaccination drives in 2018.

He also reveals that while the vaccine stocks were procured, they have not yet been shipped into the country.

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