Gavi supports rotavirus vaccine introduction in Uganda

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The vaccine will help save the lives of thousands of children by combating the leading cause of severe diarrhoea

Uganda,rotavirus vaccine introduction

Children at the rotavirus vaccine launch in Buikwe district, Uganda. Credit: UNICEF Uganda

Uganda, Buikwe, 26 June 2018 – The Government of Uganda has launched today a new rotavirus vaccine to protect under five-year-old children from diarrhoea. The vaccine, which will be available for free in health facilities throughout the country, is the 11th vaccine to be added into the national schedule of the expanded programme on immunisation in Uganda. Rotavirus vaccine is safe and can be administered simultaneously with other routine infant vaccines. It is given orally and requires two doses at 6 and 10 weeks of age, with an interval of at least 4 weeks between doses.

Rotavirus infection is the leading cause of diarrhoea in children under five and it is highly contagious. It poses an exception to typical diarrhoeal disease management rules. While improved access to clean water and better sanitation and hygiene practices are vital to preventing most diarrhoeal diseases, they have done little to disrupt rotavirus infection. The virus may cause severe, dehydrating diarrhoea in young children and, in untreated cases, lead to death.

Globally, according to the World Health Organization, an estimated 450,000 children under five years of age die each year from vaccine preventable rotavirus infections. Diarrhoea is among the top ten causes of morbidity in Uganda, with rotavirus being responsible for about 40% of all diarrhoeal cases.

Speaking at the launch of the vaccine in Buikwe, the Minister of Health, Honorable Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, announced that Rotavirus vaccine is now available in Uganda. She appealed to Ugandans to take their children at 6 weeks and 10 weeks of age for rotavirus immunisation to the nearest health facility. “An estimated 10,637 children under five years of age die in Uganda each year due to rotavirus diarrhoea,” Aceng said. The Minister emphasised the Uganda Government’s commitment to fight against vaccine preventable diseases and accelerate reduction in child morbidity and mortality.

The introduction of rotavirus vaccine marks a key milestone in the country’s commitment to improve the health of all children and I’d like to commend the Government for its efforts to provide a bright future for Uganda’s next generation.  

Anuradha Gupta, Gavi Deputy CEO

The introduction of the rotavirus vaccine into the routine immunisation schedule has been financed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, with technical support from WHO and UNICEF.

“This vaccine will help save the lives of thousands of children in Uganda by combating severe diarrhoea,” said Gavi Deputy CEO Anuradha Gupta. “The introduction of rotavirus vaccine marks a key milestone in the country’s commitment to improve the health of all children and I’d like to commend the Government for its efforts to provide a bright future for Uganda’s next generation.”

“WHO emphasises the use of Rotavirus vaccines to be part of a comprehensive strategy to control diarrhoea diseases with the scaling up of both prevention and treatment packages,” said WHO Representative Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam.

The UNICEF Representative in Uganda, Dr. Doreen Mulenga, congratulated the Ministry of Health for making further progress in securing children’s health by introducing a rotavirus vaccine into its national immunisation programme and called upon parents, guardians and caregivers to ensure that all infants are immunised against rotavirus. She added that vaccination is one of the best ways to protect children from serious childhood diseases.

 

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is supported by donor governments (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, the People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the State of Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States), the European Commission, Alwaleed Philanthropies, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as private and corporate partners (Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc., The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, China Merchants Group, Comic Relief, Deutsche Post DHL, the ELMA Vaccines and Immunization Foundation, Girl Effect, The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (IFPW), the Gulf Youth Alliance, JP Morgan, “la Caixa” Foundation, LDS Charities, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Majid Al Futtaim, Orange, Philips, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, UPS and Vodafone).

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