Uganda: Ministry of Health to conduct a preventive meningitis immunization campaign

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Kampala - 02/12/2016 — The Ministry of Health in collaboration with World Health Organization and UNICEF will conduct a mass Meningitis immunization campaign in 39 high-risk districts across the country. The vaccination campaign will take place from the 19th to 24th January 2017.

The objective of the campaign is to immunize the population in the age group 1 -29 years, strengthen surveillance and routine immunization service delivery in the districts, and achieve at least 80% coverage for vaccination in the 39 high risk districts.

The selected high risk districts; Abim Adjumani, Agago, Alebtong, Amolator, Amudat, Amuria, Amuru, Apac, Arua, buliisa, Dokolo, Gulu, Hoima Kaabong, Kaberamaido, Katakwi, Kiryandongo, Kitgum, Koboko, Kole, Kotido, Lamwo, Lira, Maracha, Masindi, Moroto, Moyo, Nakapiripirit, Napak, Nebbi, Nwoya, Omoro, Otuke, Oyam, Pader, Soroti, Yumbe and Zomba.

The preventive immunization campaign is focusing on the greater Northern Uganda and parts of Western Uganda, because they lie in the meningitis belt of Sub Saharan Africa, which has experienced frequent outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis epidemics leading to high mortality and morbidity in the population.

The dusty winds and cold nights which characterize the period between December and June in the meningitis belt increase the risk of meningitis. Transmission of Meningitis is further facilitated by overcrowded housing and large population displacements.

Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis that affects the thin layer of membrane covering the brain and spinal cord and can cause brain damage and death in 50% of cases if not treated. Anyone is prone to meningitis, however; infants and children are at more risk of contracting the disease. The risk factors for meningococcal meningitis are people who have had close or prolonged contact with a person infected with meningitis.

Vaccination is one of the key strategies that the Government of Uganda is implementing in its roadmap to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal 3, which underlines the need for good health and well-being.

The health sector has made good progress in child immunization increasing from DPT3 coverage of 52% in 2012 to current coverage of 97%, and is expected to increase even further with this preventive campaign.

Prof. Anthony K. Mbonye

Ag. Director General Health Services