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Uganda to launch polio vaccination targeting millions of children

Thursday August 31, 2017

A child receives anti-polio vaccination. Uganda is on high alert following the detection of the virus. File Photo

KAMPALA, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Uganda's ministry of health on Wednesday announced a door-to-door polio immunization campaign to prevent the reintroduction of wild polio virus from neighboring countries.

Vivian Nakalika Sserwanja, spokesperson of the ministry of health, told Xinhua in an interview that the three-day exercise to start on Sept. 9 targets about 5.7 million children under five in the 73 high-risk districts, especially those bordering South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The vaccination exercise aims at increasing and sustaining high population immunity against the crippling disease.

"We intend to immunize at least 95 percent of the under five years with one dose of bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) in high risk districts," said Nakalika.

"The vaccination teams will move house to house, markets, streets, places of worship or wherever vaccinating all children in the target age group," she added.

Uganda was certified polio free in October 2006 by World Health  Organization after ten years of not reporting any indigenous polio cases.

However, cases of wild polio virus are being reported in the neighboring South Sudan and DRC, where thousands of refugees continue to cross into the East African country fleeing the violence back home.

Health experts say this puts Uganda at risk of importing the virus.

Uganda last experienced outbreaks of the polio virus in February 2009 and October 2010 imported from South Sudan and Kenya respectively.

In 2013 and early 2014, polio cases were detected and reported in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

In January 2016, Uganda carried out a nationwide door-to-door polio immunization exercise, targeting some 7.5 million children below five to avoid the potential spread from neighboring countries.


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