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Thursday, July 29, 2021

When Community Engagement Restored Trust and Raised Public Index of Suspicion for COVID-19

Kampala, 4 September 2020:- When the World Health Organization (WHO), declared the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic, on 11th March 2020, many Ugandans didn’t take it seriously with many saying it was a disease for the affluent, the very high class or for developed countries. As the disease ravaged the entire world, Ugandans…
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    Norwegian Government Extends Financial Support Worth Over 8 billion Uganda Shillings to the World Health Organization to Improve COVID-19 vaccine roll out in Uganda.

    Kampala 15th July 2021: – The Norwegian Government has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) in a 12-months project worth over 8 billion Uganda Shillings to improve COVID-19 vaccine coverage and uptake in Uganda. The project intends to support the vaccination of at least 60% (2,879,100/ 4,798,500) of high-risk populations eligible for vaccination. In addition, upon acquisition of adequate quantities of the vaccine, health workers, teachers, security officials, and those with comorbidities will be vaccinated with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. 

    To implement the project effectively, WHO will work with the Ministry of Health Incident Management Team, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, School of Public Health; Human Resources for Health Development Institute, Mbale; National Medical Stores and Health Information Systems Program, Uganda to implement a variety of activities.

    These will include equipping teams to timely report vaccination outputs daily using the District Health Information System (DHIS2) platform and provide real-time data from the field to the national database. It will also have a defaulter tracking system which is expected to greatly enhance the outreach at the field level to ensure complete dose delivery. In addition, under this project, vaccination teams will be provided with Personal Protective Equipment to prevent COVID-19 infection during vaccination sessions to ensure that infection prevention and control guidelines are followed, which will reduce absenteeism of health workers due to illness and improve compliance.

    The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng commended the Government of Norway and WHO for the support they have rendered the country in the fight against COVID-19. “The most effective response to this pandemic remains vaccination and following the SOPs- which are physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand hygiene”, she said.

    Dr. Aceng further made mention that the Ministry remains committed to getting Ugandan’s vaccinated with support from WHO and UNICEF who are ensuring that vaccines reach as far as possible in the country. 

    While signing the agreement, the Norwegian Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Elin Østebø Johansen underlined the important work done by the Government of Uganda and the WHO to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

     “Vaccination is the most efficient tool in order to beat the pandemic worldwide. Norway is working for global, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, including to African and other developing countries through the COVAX cooperation. Today, we are happy and honored to support an efficient roll-out of the vaccines to the people of Uganda. In addition, Norway is donating 285 600 vaccines to Uganda trough COVAX, which will hopefully arrive next week” she said.

    The WHO Representative to Uganda, Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam said that, with the new wave of COVID-19 gaining ground in Uganda, vaccination against the disease is now more important than ever. 

     “I would like to heartily appreciate the Norwegian government for this timely and crucial support to Uganda as it comes at a time when the vaccination of most at-risk people eligible Ugandans against COVID-19 is most essential,” he said, adding that vaccines have scientifically proven important in saving lives. 

    The project will also enhance causality assessment of serious Adverse Effects Following Immunization (AEFI). The causality assessment will be undertaken by a panel of experts at the national level following a systematic process to identify the cause of AEFIs. This is critical to ensure the scientific evaluation of potential COVID-19 vaccine-related AEFIs. The Causality assessment of AEFIs shall follow WHO’s guidelines using the latest scientific basis. The findings will be disseminated using all platforms to increase vaccine demand. A COVID-19 vaccine post-campaign coverage survey will also be conducted using the 2018 WHO vaccination coverage cluster survey reference manual.

    Background: Uganda rolled out the COVID-19 vaccination in all 146 districts and municipalities including cities on March 10, 2021. The overall goal of COVID-19 vaccination is to prevent, reduce severe COVID-19 disease and deaths, sustain national health system response, and restore the health and productivity of the Ugandan societies and the economy. Six guiding principles namely fairness/equity, use of existing institutional frameworks, district-led implementation, environmental protection, integrated approach, and strong partnership have been used. Trained vaccination teams are available in all districts based at designated vaccination service points. 

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