Uganda has launched a new cholera vaccination campaign to protect over 360,000 people from the disease, the campaign is receiving support from the World Health Organisation and its partners.
The campaign is attempting to control a recent cholera outbreak affecting Uganda’s refugee communities and host families in the Hoima district.
Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, WHO Representative for Uganda commented:
“The oral cholera vaccine is a key weapon in the fight against cholera”
”But it is important that other efforts such as improving water, sanitation and hygiene are stepped up, otherwise cholera will continue to haunt communities”
The Hoima district has been suffering from a cholera outbreak since February, as of 29th April 2018 there have been 2,199 total cases of cholera and 44 reported deaths.
The outbreak has been focused in six hotspots: Kyangwali, Kigorobya Kabwoya and Buseruka sub-counties, Kigorobya Town council and the Kyangwali refugee settlement. These locations have a high number of vulnerable groups such as children, mobile populations and border communities.
Current estimates suggest that 1.4 million refugees live in Uganda, many of whom have entered within the last 18 months. The majority of refugees in Uganda have fled from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
Andie Lambe, Executive Director at International Refugee Rights Initiative, added:
“Cholera was confirmed over nine weeks ago and new cases are still being identified…However, the time it has taken to implement it has meant that 45 people, many of whom fled to Uganda in search of safety, have already succumbed to the illness”
“Ensuring an adequate response to the refugee influx from the DRC, given its intensity, was challenging in and of itself. The outbreak of cholera has inevitably diverted much needed financial and human resources and, with the limited funding available, this will … result in further suffering and loss of life.”
The cholera outbreak has been worsened by poor conditions in refugee camps that mean many are living in unsanitary conditions where disease spreads more easily. The large influx of refugees has also put immense pressure on Uganda’s facilities and resources.
Everyone living in the targeted areas aged one and above will have access to the vaccination campaign with two rounds planned in the Hoima district. Both static sites and mobile teams will be used in the vaccination campaign to strengthen the vaccine’s uptake.
The campaign is being heavily supported by WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other partners.
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Image credit: WHO