Uganda will conduct an age-wide national Measles-Rubella vaccination campaign (MR Campaign) from October 16-20, 2019 targeting children older than nine months to under 15 years of age. At the same time, a booster dose of oral polio vaccine will be given to all children younger than five years of age.
The Ministry of Health (MoH), with support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) trained 150 national level supervisors who will supervise and build the capacity of district health workers in the country to implement the MR and Polio campaign.
“Your role is to guide the health workers down at the district level to ensure that no mistakes are made during this exercise,” said Dr Jane Ruth Aceng while opening the training. “This exercise is very important because we are countering the current measles outbreak as well as ensuring that we achieve 100 per cent coverage target,” she added.
Dr Aceng implored the health workers to participate actively in the district planning exercises as well as help other colleagues in the districts address any challenges that may arise during the campaign.
During the past three years, (2016-2018), Uganda did not conduct any immunization campaign thus leading to an accumulation of many unimmunized children, who are currently at risk of suffering from Measles-Rubella disease. Indeed, a number of districts have recorded measles outbreaks which is a clear indication that many missed the vaccination in the routine schedule.
In order to protect the population, the target-coverage for the upcoming campaign is 100 per cent.
“Remember, this has not happened for the last three years, which has compromised the immunity of the people, leading to the current Measles outbreak,” said Dr Aceng.
After the MR campaign, the Measles-Rubella vaccine will officially be introduced into the national routine immunization schedule. According to the 2018 WHO-UNICEF best estimates, the national coverage is below 90 per cent.
Specifically, the estimates show that measles immunization coverage stands at 86% which is far below the desired target of 95 per cent that can interrupt transmission of the disease. The low coverage is due to several challenges including poor mobilization, inadequate awareness, low funding, lack of vaccines and lack of knowledge about Measles-Rubella disease in the community.
However, for this campaign, awareness creation and mobilization are in high gear spearheaded by the Ministry of Health with support from WHO. Community engagement activities are going on working with the district and religious leaders, the media, schools and cultural leaders among others.