By Frank Kamuntu
The Ministry of Health has confirmed that there is a shortage of Ebola hemorrhagic fever vaccines in the National Medical Stores, something that has sparked off untold worry among several Ugandans.
At the end of last year Uganda aimed at vaccinating its front line and health workers and 4000 personnel by the month of March from high-risk districts had been immunized during an exercise that involved a vaccine that is still undergoing a clinical trial.
Districts like Ntoroko, Kisoro, Kanungu, Bunyangabu, Kabarole, Rubirizi, Bundibugyo and Kasese were the first to be covered in the first phase of immunization, whereas districts like Kikuube, Buliisa, Kagadi, Rukungiri, Hoima, were next to be covered in the second phase of this vaccine exercise.
The ministry had decided that when a person tested positive, all his contact people should be vaccinated, in what is referred to as Ring Vaccination. The plan by the Ministry was for the vaccine to be available at all times for people at high risk of infection as part of the efforts by government to keep the viral hemorrhagic fever at bay.
However, Dr Allan Muruta, the Incident Commander of the Ebola Disease outbreak at the Ministry of Health, told journalists on Thursday that people who need the jab cannot currently get it, yet it is very effective.
He was speaking at a meeting that brought together officials from the World Health Organization, Ministries of Health of both Uganda and the Democratic Republic Congo and the United Nations in Kampala.
In addition, Dr Jane Byakika, an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, said unlike in Uganda, donors have to ensure that the DR Congo which has an active outbreak has enough stocks all the time.